TIPS ABOUT PRAYER

St.Paisios the Athonite

”Pray without ceasing.”(1 Thessalonians 5,17)

”And when you stand praying forgive anything you hold against anyone.” (Mark 11, 25)

  • We should pray faithfully for any demand and have patience and God will speak. Because when man prays faithfully he somehow urges God to fulfill his request for his faith.
  • That’s why when we ask something from God we should not doubt and we shall be heard. Have faith without doubting, God said. God knows when He has to give us what we ask, so that we would not hurt ourselves spiritually.
  • Sometimes we ask something from God but we don’t have patience and worry. If we did not have an almighty God, then we should worry. But because we have an almighty God, who has such a great love for us that he even feeds us with his own blood, we have no reason to worry.
  • The key to success (in prayer) is that the one who prays should feel pain. If he does not feel pain, he could stand for hours with his rosary in his hand and his prayer wouldn’t bring any result.
  • The true prayer starts from pain, it is not pleasure or nirvana. But what kind of pain is that? Man suffers in the good way. He feels pain, moans, suffers for the other one.
  • Do you know what means to suffer? Yes, he suffers, because he participates in the general pain of the world or of a certain man.
  • This participation, this pain is rewarded by God with divine rejoicing. Of course the man doesn’t ask for this divine rejoicing. It comes as a consequence of his participation in the pain of the other one.

Antonaki

There were a lot of games on the way. A child his father was holding by the  hand was sobbing without cease although he had just bought him a game before. It was obvious that he wanted something more. He was crying and sobbing and pulling his father to the place where he wanted to go. But his father, keeping calm was whispering softly, soothingly: ”Calm down, Antonaki! Don’t get angry, Antonaki! Control yourself, Antonaki!”

The lady who was coming behind them was almost indignant seeing the behavior of that spoiled child. And she marveled at the father’s composure. That’s why she wanted to congratulate him for this :

”Dear sir, I’d like to congratulate you for your mildness.” ” If it were my child, I wouldn’t have been able to control myself.” ”I would have slapped his ass twice or thrice so that he would have remembered it.”

Then she turned to the child and said: ”Good children don’t behave the way you do, Antonaki.” ”They don’t cry in the street and don’t upset their father.”

The child stopped for a while from crying and looking wonderingly at the woman, told her: ”My name is not Antonaki, but Iannis.” ”My father’s name is Antonaki”…

 

The faithless father accepts his child’s wish

The following dialogue took place once between a father and his son:

”Father, am I allowed to go to the church?” the child said to his father.

”No”, the faithless father answered. ”The church is not for you.” ”It’s for the old people.”

”But father, at school I learnt that the fourth commandment of God says we should go to the church on every Sunday in order to worship Him: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”

”This is nonsense”, his father said.

”But daddy, if it is nonsense to observe the fourth commandment, then it’s same if we keep the fifth which says: Honor your father and mother so that it may be well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

These words fell like lightning in his father’s ears, who accepted in the end his child’s wish. Because God teaches us even by means of small children…Therefore, let us consider what we teach our children!

 

 

Listen to me (part II)

The day when we were to go home finally came. I thought that maybe now things would change. When I got in the house, my eyes looked around. Mmm, we had a pretty home! Let’s see my room. How could it be? But I didn’t have any room of my own. She took me to her room where it was my crib. She put me in, covered me and left.

I didn’t cry at all. I wanted to know the place. After I examined it enough, I got tired and fell asleep. When I woke up I cried so that my mummy would hear me. But there was no answer…I went on screaming and crying.

At a certain moment she came in annoyed. She took me in her arms and put her teat into my mouth. I was eating and looking closely at her. I was waiting for a smile from her. But in vain. After I ate, she held me in her arms for a while so that I would burp then she put me back in my bed and left. I didn’t like that at all, but I didn’t shed a tear. I simply felt a sharp pain in my heart cause of the lack of her love.

This happened every day. Many times she smelled of cigarette smoke and I could hardly breathe. Day by day we estranged more and more of each other. I tried to show her with my eyes that she didn’t love me, that I felt more and more coldness, loneliness, unsafety, but she couldn’t understand me. I wonder if all the grown-ups are like this? I started to be afraid. As for my father, I didn’t see him, cause when he came I was asleep. But the woman who gave birth to me was incapable to understand me.

Why did she give birth to me if she doesn’t want me? Why did she give birth to me if I am an obstacle in her life?

When I was looking for her and started to cry so that she would hold me softly in her arms, I heard her saying to my dad: Let her cry and she would stop in the end. They had no disposition to care about me and to see how much I suffered cause they left me look for their love.

How wrong you are, my sweet mummy! When I cry I have my own reasons. I don’t cry to annoy you. I cry cause it hurts me, or I am hungry or I am trying to see your face, hoping you would hold me in your arms and smile to me and stick my little face on your cheek, so that I would feel your breath. Then surely full of your love I would stop crying.

When you let me cry under the guise that I would get a bad habit if being in your arms, the only thing you manage to do is to make me recede after getting tired of looking for you.

You, mummy, have any idea what means that I recede? If not, I would explain it to you. I recede means that I stop looking for your love, I stop looking for your embrace, for your caress, for your warm gaze. And that’s cause you don’t want to love me! Cause you see me as an obstacle in your life, in your career. You simply gave birth to me cause you are afraid that when you’d grow old, you’d be alone, abandoned by everyone. Did you understand, mummy? You gave birth to me out of your fear, but you don’t think that just as you gave birth to me, without your love, I won’t be beside you when you’d be old but will send you to a care home instead, meaning that I will give you what you deserve. Do you understand, mummy?

And that’s because your mother didn’t love you either, she didn’t take you in her arms, she didn’t warm you with her breath. That’s why you didn’t love her. Did you really miss her embrace? Did you really miss her soft caress? Did you miss the words – I love you, my child? If you missed all these, why do you deprive me of them too? Why do you give me the same pain you had? Why, mummy dear?

Mummy, everything you give me, you’ll get it back in the same way. For this reason give me your love, so that you could be sure I won’t ever hurt you, I won’t ever betray you, you won’t ever be ashamed of your child. On the contrary, I will make you praise me. But what a pity, mummy! What you did was to estrange us. If you’d ever be ready to get to know and love each other I am ready to forgive you

Listen to me (part I)

I cry to you in the language of silence. I cry in the language of love. I cry! Listen to me, please! I’m alone, I need you. Stretch out your hand and caress your womb. Its’ me, your baby inside there. And be sure that I’ll feel your love. Do it, please! Show me that you love me. And please dear mummy stop getting angry and stop fighting with my dad, stop crying, stop smoking, stop drinking. You suffocated me with all these things you do! Please do love me! You were the one who chose to give birth to me. Why are you torturing me?

And after this child is born a new dialogue begins, this time one face to face.

Now, my sweet mummy, you will look into my eyes and I will look into yours, now we’ll talk. Now you’ll prove me if I am a fruit of love, if you gave birth to me cause of your stubbornness, out of a whim or cause of a so-called mistake.

Now mummy dear you’ll tell and show me all. While I was living in your womb, you made me suffer. I hope that now you feel sorry for that bad bevahiour.

The first hug

There where they put us after we were born, we, all the newborn babies, were crying, we protested in our way, each one of us in his own words. At a certain moment the nurse came in and took us one by one to our mummies to be fed. My turn came. She took me to my mummy, put me in her arms and told her to feed me. I looked at my mummy closely cause her bosom wasn’t full of love and affection, it was cold. She took out her breast and put it into my mouth. But I refused it. I continued to look at her closely. I was waiting for a smile from her, but it was in vain. I didn’t enjoy at all what happened afterwards. Disgusted and annoyed, she pushed me to take her breast. I ate a little, cause I didn’t want to make her angrier. I was upset when I found that she didn’t understand the discontent from my eyes.

The next day, in the afternoon I met my father. He greeted only my mother. He didn’t bother to touch me. He just glanced at me quickly as if I were something strange for him. And this is what happened daily in the hospital. I watched my mum in the eye and I was waiting for a smile from her and for a warmer embrace. But I waited in vain…

 

Who created God ?

A youngster went to a wise old man and asked him warmly: ”How is God?” ”Does He really exist?” ”Please tell me!” ”Do you think that God exists?”

”Of course I do”, the old man answered.

”And do you also believe that God created the world?”

”Of course I do.”

”But who created God?”

”You”, the old man answered briefly and seriously.

The youngster was shocked by his answer and after a while he said:

”I ask you seriously and you tell me that I created God.”

”But I speak seriously too”, the old man answered. ”I speak very seriously indeed and take heed why.” ”You, by all the questions you ask me, show that you’re not seeking to find God as He is, but seek a god as you want him to be, as you imagine him, a God made by your measures.” ”Therefore this god you’ll create for yourself, won’t be the true God.” Then the old man added: ”Son, try to find the true God and receive Him as He is.” ”You shouldn’t want him be the way you imagine him.” ”Try to be yourself as he wants you to be.” ”Try to understand Him as he is and to love his will as it is.”

 

 

What is love?

In a classroom, a pupil asked his teacher: ”What is love, ma’am?”

The teacher thought the pupil deserved an answer to match his intelligence. Because the break was coming in a few minutes, the teacher asked her pupils to search the school yard and garden for everything aroused their love feelings.

The children rushed out happily and when they got back, their teacher told them:

”I want to show me what you brought, each one of you.”

The first pupil answered: ”I brought this flower!” ”Isn’t it beautiful?”

When it came the turn for the second one, he said: ”I brought this butterfly.” ”Look at the colors of its wings!” ”I’ll add it to my collection.”

The third pupil added: ”I brought this little bird that fell down from its nest.” ”Isn’t it lovely?”

Thus, the pupils, one by one, put on the teacher’s desk what they had brought from the school yard.

After they had finished the teacher noticed that a girl didn’t bring anything and kept quiet all that time. It seemed as if she was ashamed she didn’t bring anything. The teacher turned to her and asked: ”Are you all right, my child?” ”Didn’t you find anything at all?”

”Forgive me, madam!” ”I saw the flower and smelled its scent.” ”I thought to tear it, but preferred to leave it there to spread its perfume for a longer time.” ”I saw the vividly colored, lovely butterfly too.” ”It seemed so happy that I didn’t want to catch it.” ”I saw the little bird that fell down to the ground from its nest but when I looked up, I saw its mother had such saddened eyes that I preferred to put it back into its nest.” ”For this reason I brought the flower’s perfume, the butterfly’s feeling of freedom and the gratefulness from the eyes of the little bird’s mother.” ”But how could I show you all these?”

The teacher thanked her, giving her the highest grade.

She had been the only one from her class who understood that we could  bear true love just in our hearts.

Continue the good that I did to you!

I’d like to tell you a somewhat different short story, maybe utopian but relevant and with a powerful message. Something we need these days in what’s happening around us.

Few years ago a renowned doctor was going with his family to spend some time in a forest, in a camper van. All of a sudden, after a loud rumble, the car stopped in the ditch on the right side of the road. Breakdown at the front wheel, on the right side. His twin kids got scared and his wife tried to calm them down.

”Don’t worry”, he said. ”I’ll put the spare tire and we’ll continue our journey.”

He changed the tire indeed, with painful effort.

It was 40oC outside. When he got in the car he saw that the kids continued to cry. His wife was daunted.

The doctor told her: ”Have a bit of patience, there’s a gas station at 50 km from here and we’ll stop there.” He started the car but couldn’t ride for 50 m when another noise, just like the previous one, forced him to brake abruptly. When he got down, what did he see? He had a breakdown at the other tire.

The twins got even more scared and cried loudly. The doctor was despondent and his wife was on the verge of hysteria. In the meantime it started to get dark and no car was seen in the distance.

As time went by the doctor was overwhelmed by an increasing fear, not for himself but for his family.

Two hours had passed when the lights of a car showed in the distance. The doctor ran like crazy in the middle of the road, with his arms raised, to stop that driver and ask for his help. The car got near and braked. It was a big pickup truck with a wolf dog in the bin. The dog seemed to be a good one. The doctor went to the driver’s window and saw a sturdy man with an unkempt goatee. On the right seat he saw a pair of crutches.

”Please, I have two small kids and had two flat tires.” ”Do help us!”

”What do you want me to do?”

”I saw that at 50 km from here is a gas station.” ”Could you take me  there to get my car fixed?”

”What about giving you my car to go there?” ”And I’ll stay with your family, for not being lonely in this desert place.” The doctor looked at the stranger in amazement, cause he was ready to give him his car, but felt uncertain if to leave him alone with his family. The stranger realized his concern and said: ”Don’t worry, I’m a good company for your kids. But you should take care of my dog. It’ a good dog, but wild and used to protect me.”

The doctor fearing the stranger could have changed his mind, told him: ”I agree.”

Then he explained the situation to his wife while the stranger walked to the camper van leaning on his crutches. He had two wooden legs.

The doctor didn’t wait for his wife’s declination. He was scared and despondent. He got in the car and left in agony, full of remorse.

He arrived at the gas station, got his car fixed and drove back, but cause of his fear for his family, big drops of sweat were falling down from his forehead. It had already passed an hour and a half since his departure. He braked sharply in front of the camper van. When he got near, he heard laughter instead of crying. He opened the door and saw the following sight. The stranger was making grimaces in front of the twins and his wife was cooking something, as if nothing had happened. When seeing him, she said: ”Welcome back, dear.”

The doctor looked at them speechless. The stranger didn’t wait for his answer, took his crutches and got up saying as for himself:

”Now I should go.”

The doctor walked him out and when they reached the car he told him: ”Thank you.” ”You saved me.” ”How can I reward you for the good you did to me?”

The stranger looked him in the eye and said: ”I’ll tell you a short story.” ”I was a soldier in Vietnam when a grenade fell beside me.” ”Another soldier carried me on his back for five km.” ”I’m happy this way, with both of my legs missing.” ”I ask you for one thing.” ”Continue it!”

”What to continue?” the doctor asked.

”Continue the good I did to you.”

Today the doctor is renowned for two reasons: first – the special qualities that make him be such a good surgeon and secondly for the phrase: ”Continue it!” he says every time when  someone without money asks him: ”How much do I owe you doctor?”

Would it be so hard for each one of us to continue what we’ve just read?

The bag with holes

Once a monk fell into a sin. Then all the other monks of that skete gathered together and decided to send someone to call abba Moses. But he did not want to come. Then the presbyter of the skete sent a monk to invite him, saying: ”Come, abba, cause people are waiting for you!”

Abba Moses got up and decided to go. He took an empty bag, filled it with sand and kept it on his shoulder while walking to the skete. The monks of the skete who came out to greet him, seeing that odd thing asked him: ”What does this mean, pious father?”

And he answered: ”These are my sins that are falling behind me and being so wretched  I don’t see them, but dared to come here today to judge foreign sins…”

Then the monks who heard him, didn’t say anything else to the brother who sinned, but forgave him.

You should always be both guilty!

The metropolitan Paul of Sisanio and Siatista

What means a divorce? Our inability to love. This is the core reason. All the others are mere justifications. The failure in love. The wrong perception we had about marriage. Marriage is not a bed of roses…Study carefully the Marriage Service (the marriage mystery) for there are found all the elements and conditions you should  know about and thus you will reach the plenitude of your relationship.

The Church shows us the path from the very beginning: ”Blessed is the Kingdom of Father”…And in that moment the priest makes the sign of the cross with the Gospel. What does this mean? Three elementary things. My sons, do you know where you’re going? You are not heading to the unknown with the boat of hope, you have started your way towards the Kingdom of God. This is the true journey of matrimony. Who will be your guide on this journey? The Holy Gospel. And what is your journey? A cross. I tell the couples who marry:

”I don’t know if you understood, my children, but today you have to die.” ”Your selfishness must die.” ”You left your former homes and came here, then you leave this place and go to a new home.” ”Very nice.”” What do all these mean?” ”You have to forget about your former self, about what you’ve been  till now and by your coming here your beings will be united by the grace of God.”

See, at a certain moment I join their hands and tell them:

”Have you seen two keys joined by a ring?” ”No matter where they be, they are together.” ”They will be in our pocket, or they will be dropped on the way, or in the sea, but they will always be together, cause they are linked by a ring, a wedding ring.” ”If they get out of the ring it is very unlikely that they would still remain together.” ” But what’s the link?” ”The divine grace.” ”Put your hands, put both your hearts in God’s hand.” ” God does not grab us by force, but stretches His hand and if you willingly put your hands in His hand, He will join you in a perfect, holy union and in this way you will make your journey.”

When civil marriage was established I feasted. I said: ” I will finally get rid of the pain I feel  to officiate marriages between people who don’t know what they do.”” Go to the mayor or anywhere else you want, but not here.” ” Because this place is for those who know what they want and believe in what they do.” ” A divorce may have many excuses, but its true reasons are only a few.” How are two young people going to prepare for getting married? From the answer to this question you will be able to understand what’s going to follow. How well do they know each other? Or how deeply they ignore each other? I heard many times these words: ”It was not like this at the beginning.” But that’s exactly how it was, my child, only you didn’t see it. The engagement is not a frothy period when all we have to do is party all day long. It’s instead a period when people talk seriously about their future, see if they undertand each other, if they have the same goal in life, sometimes even in certain things that seem rather superfluous and easier.

Once I said to some young people who were friends: ”My children, it’s better to break up today than tomorrow.”

”But why?” they asked.

”Cause you have no connection with each other.” ”One of you has interests that are totally different and specialized and the other one has only – and the young people use this word today – rubble. After some time you will start to envy her and she will get tired of you. So don’t make mistakes!

Fortunately they understood in time. Cause it’s important to see the truth. ” I love you” and ”do you love me?” is so easy to say these words, but it’s difficult to live them. We learnt that love is incarnated. And if it’s not incarnated, if it’s not crucified, then it has no future.

Ultimately the divorce is a failure. But the question that’s risen is the following: How will we face a divorce? Do we learn from our mistakes? Did we understand how we got here? Are we aware that we failed? And we did not fail by mere chance, but we failed cause of some concrete, clear and visible reasons. Or do we think that only the other one is to blame? To the people who get married I make this wish: ”My children I wish you would learn in your life to be always guilty both of you.” ” Cause if you think that’s only one of you to blame, something goes wrong between you two.”

To marry means to accept the other one just as he/she is, cause I love him/her. To marry means to struggle, to strive for offering joy to the one I love. Thus there is a common journey of two people. The fact that the other one accepts me does not generate the immunity for my selfishness, as long as he/she accepts me as I am. He/she accepts you cause he/she loves you. But what about you? Do you love too? Then correct yourself. If you see that something bothers the other one, correct that thing. When I hear some people saying: ”That’s me, I’m not going to change”, I tell them: ”It would have been better if you hadn’t got married cause the one who loves, changes himself.” ”I won’t change” means ”I don’t love.” All the others are unnecessary.