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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Daily Prayer Basics - How to Pray


Daily prayer is essential to a healthy Orthodox Christian life. It is not an option. Why do we pray, How do we pray, When do we pray and Where do we pray are questions we address below.

Why do we Pray?
• Christ asks us to pray. He tells us in the Gospel of Luke, How much more will
the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13).
We pray so that God can help us to become more like Him in our actions.
• For renewal and the growth of our soul.
• To give thanks to God for all he provides for us.
• To seek forgiveness for our sinfulness as humility is a prerequisite for prayer.

We can also pray to seek help for others as well as ourselves. But we must not forget to pray for His help in our own spiritual growth. This is not selfish, but essential for us to better love and serve others and carry out God’s commandments. We can ask also for His help in supporting us in the various ascetic practices we choose to undertake.

Make your life a continuous prayer
We are asked to pray without ceasing. Here are the Scripture references to this idea.
Pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (Eph 6:158)
He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.
(Luke 18:1)

God intends our life to become one of a constant prayer where we are continually in a relationship with Him. This is our main task, to draw nearer to God. How do we do this? Saint Isaac of Syria reminds us that it is impossible to draw near to God by any means other than unceasing prayer.

When Do We Pray?
A Regular Time for Prayer
First, you need to establish a regular time to pray. You should have as a minimum a specific time in the morning and in the evening set aside for prayer. With our busy lives this means you will have to make some conscious changes to make time for prayer. Pick a time that you know you can keep no matter what. Strict discipline in this is important. The length of time is something that only you can determine in consultation with your spiritual father. You prayer time should not be less than ten minutes in the morning and then again in the evening. Your time in prayer will grow as your relationship with God grows. At first you will find it a struggle to maintain what seem like a simple discipline as there are negative forces that will try and keep you from regular prayer. But, there will come a time when you can’t wait for the time to pray. Expect a struggle in the beginning to maintain a strict schedule. As the popular saying goes, “Just do it!” Think of all the other things in your life that you do routinely like getting to work of school on time, or personal hygiene acts like brushing your teeth. Surely you can also make prayer a fixed routine..

Where Do We Pray?

A Quiet Private Place For Prayer
Next, you need to find a quiet private place where you will not be disturbed for your daily prayer. This may be a corner in the bedroom (a room divider can help make a special place), space in a walk-in closet, or, if you are fortunate to have an extra room, a special room that is only for prayer. It needs to be a place where you can be undisturbed and alone. Once you choose the place, you should set up a small home icon stand. On it place an icon of Christ, Theotokos, and your patron saint. Have an oil lamp or candle that you can light while you pray. Also an incense burner, a cross and a prayer book and Bible...

How Do We Pray?
"Prayer needs no teacher. It requires diligence, effort and personal ardor, and then God will be its teacher." St. Meletius the Confessor

St Isaac the Syrian says we should:
• Pray with attention – so that we can have a true
encounter with God
• Pray with humility – because this sort of prayer goes
straight to God’s ear
• Pray with affection and tears – with joy and
thanksgiving, but also with true repentance and purity.
• Pray with patience and ardor – ‘to deny oneself’ is
courageously to persevere in prayer.
• Pray from the depths of the heart – even if we pray
using ‘the words of another’ they should be uttered as if
they are our own. St. Isaac says this is especially true
of the Psalms.
• Pray with faith and absolute trust in God – because He knows our life.



Preparing to Pray
With a regular time and a special place, you are ready to begin. You begin praying by focusing your consciousness in your heart and forcibly gathering there all the powers of the soul and body. Take the time at the beginning of your prayer time to quiet your body and to concentrate your energies in your heart. Christ says, “Enter into thy closet and ... shut thy door” (Matt 6:6). Remove all activities that could disrupt your inner descent. Set aside, to the best of your ability, all of your problems of the day and your worries for tomorrow. This is not a time for thinking or worrying. When you are preparing to pray, stand, sit or walk a few minutes and steady your mind to concentrate on God.

Reflect on who it is that you will be addressing. Remember, it is God Himself who you are about to talk with. Try to bring about a feeling of humility and reverent awe. Make some prostrations before you begin....

Note: When we pray we should face East.

Follow a Prayer Rule and use written prayers in the beginning
You should have a specific rule for both morning and evening. Don’t try and wing it. You are developing a discipline that is beyond what you will feel like doing. This is not a relaxation exercise but a path to be in communion with your God. You will need to have a specific set of guidelines that you follow each time with no excuses for shortcutting them. In your rule, incorporate standing, prostrations, kneeling, making the sign of the cross, reading, and at times singing. Use prayer books and written prayers. The Orthodox prayer books are filled with prayers that have been well tested and used for hundreds of years. Prayer does not have to be a creative activity. You must be sincere. Keep your awareness in your heart and concentrate on the words of the prayer. Once you establish a rule, always keep it. Be sure to work with your spiritual Father on this....

Focus on each word - Don't rush your prayer
As you begin to pray enter into every word of the prayer. Bring the meaning of the words down into your heart. Do not rush through the prayers like you are in a hurry to get them over with. Let them slowly drop into the depths of your heart with humility and awe of God. Its like in driving a car. When you are going 90 miles per hour down the highway you may feel powerful and in control. But at high speeds things can go wrong fast. When driving at a speed of twenty-five miles per hour the car handles easy and if someone makes a dangerous maneuver you can easily avoid it. Well, the mind works the same way. We want to train it to slow down so we can become aware of God’s presence within us. So, in prayer we say the words slowly so we can gain the meaning of them and allow them to penetrate our consciousness and to bring to our heart feelings of love and reverence for our God. Let the words drop individually into your heart like pebbles dropping into a pond. You will eventually find the right pace for yourself. Beware of the tendency to rush to complete them hurriedly. When this tendency is present you have turned your prayer into an obligation and it is no longer true prayer. Don’t worry if you catch yourself doing this. It is normal at first. Just stop and slow down and proceed asking God’s forgiveness and help. Also, study the prayers before you use them so you know the meaning of each word. Eventually you will want to memorize them...

Concentrate 

 After you begin to recite your prayers you will find that your mind will want to wander. While you are reciting the words of the pray your mind can jump to something entirely different. Don’t be concerned about this as this is natural due to the forces that do not want us to pray to God. Work to learn to concentrate your attention. Recognize that when this happens you are no longer praying. When you mind does wander, be gentle with yourself and go back and recite again what you said while your mind was elsewhere. Make a concerted effort to bring yourself to concentrate on the words of the prayer. Sometimes it helps to say them out loud for a while. The mind is quite adept at doing more than one thing at a time. You need to bring yourself to a single focus on God. When you are talking to your best friend you don't think of other things when talking with them. When you go into the boss for a discussion you concentrate. God deserves better attention than anyone, so you must learn to concentrate, to focus on the words of the prayer. These wanderings of the mind show you the impact of your busy life that you need to find ways to make quieter so you can be always mindful of God no matter what you are doing. Prayer is not time to be distracted by these worldly activities, because this will only further distract you from prayer. Work to concentrate your attention more and more. Each day you will gain in your attentiveness during prayer. Learn how to lift you mind to be attentive to heavenly things...

Don't rush into other activities when finished with Prayer
When you finish your prayers, stand for a few moments. Consider to what your prayer life commits you. Try to hold in your heart what has been given to you. Treasure it for a few moments.

Pray EVERY Morning and Evening at a minimum
Remember to make your prayer life one that is a firm rule and not something that is done occasionally or sporadically. It must be done each day morning and evening at a minimum. You need to have specific prayers that are part of your prayer rule. You need to commit to doing you rule each and every day. Think about certain personal hygiene tasks such as brushing your teeth that you do each day out of habit. You don’t forget to do them each day. Your prayer rule needs o become a habit as strong as these. Prayer must become a daily habit that you never forget. Prayer is essential for the health of our soul Just like the hygiene activities that we do for the health of our body.

http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2013/11/daily-prayer-basics-how-to-pray.html
http://www.orthodoxprayer.org

The day of the Lord



Sunday is the day set aside to honor God and should be spent differently from all other days. It is a day we raise our minds and hearts to God with deep reverence towards Him and with profound gratitude and prayer. In the Old Testament it was the Sabbath that was such a day but in the New Testament it is Sunday, the Lord's Day.

Moses was told, "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath for the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work" (Exodus 20:8-10). In the Old Testament the penalty for not keeping it holy was the death of the soul.

What were the reasons for this commandment from God?
a. It was hallowed by God in memory of the creation of the world. In Genesis ti says, "On the sixth day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all His work which God created and made" (Gen 2:2-3).

b. The other reason is the remembrance of the liberation of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage as we are instructed in Deut 5:12-15. Similarly the people of the New Testament were delivered from the bondage of sin by the death of Jesus Christ and it is prescribed also for us to consecrate the day of the Old Testament Sabbath on the day of the Resurrection, Sunday.
Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg puts it this way: "The Lord has granted us six days of every week to carry out our business necessary for our earthly life, but the seventh day–only ne day–He appointed for rest under pain of eternal death for violating it..."

Saint John Chrysostom says: "It was the Lord's good will to prescribe that we dedicate one day in the weekly cycle to spiritual matters."

In the book of Acts we see that original Christians gathered on Sunday for the breaking of bread and listened to His teachings (Acts 20:7).

There are several obligation that Sunday imposes on us.
1. We should set aside all the business we need to engage in during the six days of the week to support ourselves.

2. We should turn away from all impious acts that distract our souls from the remembrance of the Lord God, reverence towards Him, gratitude and a prayerful disposition of soul towards Him. This includes all unedifying reading, conversations and games where our soul might lose remembrance of God and potentially be carried away by delights and sin.

3. We are to attend the Divine Liturgy. This service is the ultimate remembrance of God's various blessings. In our attendance we reverence God, give Him thanks, and seek through our prayers that His blessings will continue to be given to us. We join in communion with Him as we partake of His body and Blood.

4. We should reflect on all of God's creation and His All-Powerful nature, His Wisdom, Goodness and unconditional Love for us. We should experience the wonder and awe of His creation in the natural environment. We should reflect on His life and the path He laid out for us through His death and Resurrection.
Metropolitan Gregory says. "You who love God: follow the path unto which the Lord has directed you and fear nothing...only try to please the Lord God, and then, remembering the words of the Holy Apostle, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31)... Do not be afraid, just try and avoid all occasions of sin through which our enemy always more easily lures us into his nets and ruins us."

You should contemplate His passion and death, how he suffered for us and think of what is written in the Gospel of John, "Behold how God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).

5. We should read the Scripture on this day just like the first members of His Church (Acts 20:7). We are all called to live a holy life in His image. "God has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him." (Eph. 1:4)

6. Metropolitan Gregory reminds us: "We must examine ourselves every day in relation to our salvation, so much more should it be our obligation on Sundays... Sunday before all other days should be a day on which we make the most attentive and detailed examination of our spiritual state in relation to salvation, and make a new, firm intention to root out from ourselves everything "opposed to God and our salvation."

Reference: How to Live a Spiritual Life, pp 112-137


http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-day-of-lord.html

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Προσευχή στο τραπεζι .....( Αγιος Παϊσιος )


            
(Ο Γέροντας θυμάται τα παιδικά του χρόνια με τους γονεις του). 


Στο τραπέζι καθόμασταν όλοι μαζί. Κάναμε πρώτα προσευχή και υστέρα αρχίζαμε να τρώμε. Αν άρχιζε κανείς να τρώει, πριν ευλογηθεί το τραπέζι, λέγαμε: «αυτός πόρνευσε».

Την έλλειψη εγκράτειας την θεωρούσαμε πορνεία.

Είναι διάλυση της οικογενείας να έρχεται ο καθένας στο σπίτι, οποία ώρα θέλει, και να τρώει μόνος του χωρίς να υπάρχει λόγος.

Εσείς γέροντα την έλλειψη της εγκράτειας στο φαγητό τη θεωρούσατε πορνεία .

Όσοι από εμάς θεωρούμε την πορνεία αρετή, άλλά και τα κουσούρια τα ονομάσαμε υπέρβαση και απελευθέρωση σε τι σειρά αρετής κατατασσόμαστε;

Αν αυτό που τότε λέγατε εσείς ήταν το αποκορύφωμα της εγκράτειας, αυτό που τώρα κάποιοι λένε από εμάς είναι προφανως το αποκορύφωμα... της διαφθοράς!

Αγιος Παϊσιος

Monday, September 28, 2015

What Saint Seraphim of Sarov represents in Russia



Two hundred thirty-seven years ago, on November 20th, 1778, Prokhor Moshnin, a tall, blue-eyed, light red-haired youth, the son of a Kursk builder-contractor, entered the Monastery of Sarov. He was leaving the worldly life because he wished to live constantly and wholly in God. He “loved Christ from his youth” and when yet a boy ten years of age was touched by the grace of the Lord: he was healed by the Mother of God, through her miraculous Icon of the Sign. This icon is now with us, in the Russian Diaspora.

Years passed. The youth Prokhor passed through all the monastic obediences, and eight years later was tonsured a monk with the name Seraphim; later, he was ordained to the rank of hierodeacon, and finally, when he had reached the age of 34, he was elevated to the rank of hieromonk, on the very day, the 20th of November, when he had entered the monastery. He withdrew to a cell in the forest wilderness and began the great, mystical life of a hermit, a man of silence, a stylite. But seventeen years after this, he returned to the monastery and began the new, even more difficult struggle of a recluse, which he bore for ten years. In 1820, he opened the door of his recluse’s cell, but lived for several more years in silence, after which, finally, he began his ultimate struggle of elder, teacher and comforter of the Russian people.

But on January 2nd, 1833, he left Sarov and the people entirely and departed to the Lord God. He serenely, blessedly, fell asleep during prayer, kneeling before the image of the Mother of God. Peacefully did “wretched Seraphim,” as that humble hieromonk of the Monastery of Sarov called himself, leave us, in bast sandals or leather stockings, in a sackcloth cassock, with a leather mantle on his shoulders, a brass cross on his breast, bent over, leaning on a hatchet. Seventy years after his repose, on July 19th, 1903, around his grave gathered, perhaps for the last time, Holy Russia, with its pious Tsar. It gathered there reverently to bow down and kiss the holy relics of “wretched Seraphim.” In ecstasy, Holy Russia chanted “Christ is risen!” and glorified the venerable Seraphim, the beloved chosen one of the Mother of God, who had acquired the love of Christ, the great ascetic and prophet, wonder-worker and theologian, comforter and healer, man of prayer who wept for the Russian people.




St. Seraphim of Sarov



Many times did people come to him, and we would teach them attentively and carefully, like a mother, about the kingdom of God, life in God, the meaning of life on earth, and through those with whom he conversed with such love he now tells us that we should live in continual fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit. Faith in God is faith in what He is, and that He is love; and also that there exists an invisible, divine world, eternal and more real than the visible world, and in assuming its nature man prepares himself for life everlasting: “he will not come to judgment, but will pass from death to life.” Man must come to know this world, to become aware of it every time he is touched by it. This touching comes like a good gift, and the venerable Seraphim called this touch “grace.”

The meaning of life, in his words, consists of the acquisition of grace, so that, more and more frequently, and finally as an exalted attainment, we may be ever with God the Holy Spirit, abiding in Him always, becoming His child, a fellow heir with our Lord Jesus Christ. “But how can I know if the divine world has touched me? How can I learn to recognize the grace of the Holy Spirit?,” they would ask the venerable one; and he would point directly at the person he was conversing with and say: “We are in the midst of grace right now,” and he taught them and us that it is recognized by spiritual peace, because the heart is warmed by perfect love, by peaceful, humble, spiritual compunction. “They always said to you, reverend sir, that the meaning of life consists of doing good deeds, keeping the fasts, going to church; but this is not how they taught you,” said the venerable one; and he explained that “these works are only the means for living life in God; these works are merely the oil in the lamp which the flame burns, only the wares we trade in; to amass the capital of grace we must perfect those virtues from which the fire of love will burn more brightly.”

This is the meaning of life, and this is what guided the venerable one. The peace of God, the fire of divine love, the venerable one loved with all his soul, and to live in it and only in it the saint departed for the monastery, for the wilderness hut, for the recluse’s cell; and while he was thus making himself steadfast in spirit, he did not wish either to see or speak with men, avoiding all contact with them. We can conjecture that he so carefully and humbly approached his final struggle as elder, consoler and healer of the people because he had tested himself as to whether he could live with men and among men without breaking his fellowship with God.

When the venerable one ended his reclusion, the faithful, Holy Russia, began to descend upon him from all the ends of the land. He stood before it as a living witness to the peace of God, one who shared therein, a living bearer of the fire of grace and the light of divine love. He received the people with a kiss, blessing them and saying, “Christ is risen!,” and calling them “my joy, my treasure.” In the bright light of love, tender, burning love for the people, his image stands forth in our heart. But while rejoicing in this his love, we must remember that in this feeling there lurks the danger that we will oversimplify his image and liken it more closely to ourselves, to our shallow, short-sighted understanding. Do we not, in rejoicing in his love, begin to forget that this was the love of Christ?

Yes, the last years of his life he lived with us and among us; but let us not forget that for thirty years before this he was not only not with us, but with all his loving closeness to us did not want to speak or even to see us. He is not only “ours,” because he was not raised in our midst. He came to us not because he had any need of us: he came to us for the sake of Christ. In the vision he received during his illness, the Mother of God came to him and aid, “This man is one of us.”

We ought never to forget this. On the day when the doors of his cell were opened, there stood before us both a man and a denizen of heaven, because he lived in the divine world, and from thence he brought his own greetings, his own love and care for sick, weeping and loving hearts. His love, compassion and joy are in no way similar to the analogous moods of ordinary men who are good, yet of the soul, not the spirit. Such men easily fall into sentimentality. In the saint there was not the slightest trace of this feeling. He imposed upon people such struggles, the fulfillment of which, as for example the struggle of voluntary poverty on Manturov, for many long years elicited tears and sufferings from those close to him.

Yet the venerable one was not troubled by such tears. Hearing of the sufferings of the fool-for-Christ’s-sake Pelagia Ivanovna, how neither beatings, nor torments of which it is difficult to hear, were able to break her resolve to be a fool-for-Christ’s-sake, he rejoiced in her strength, but did not embitter her with afflictions. The venerable one not only did not approach life like an ordinary man. He lived as though the laws of natural life had lost their power over him. At a distance of seven miles, he saw how a girl was giving alms, and he prayed, falling prostrate on the ground. This is revealed to us by a witness to this miracle, and we are determined to believe that it was given by the Lord to teach us to glorify the saint in a fitting manner.

Yet this picture of the venerable one will not be complete if we do not consider his encounter with a young officer, traditionally held to be one of the Decembrists, when the saint angrily pushed his hands away: “You plotted such a thing, and now you come to me for a blessing? Get away from me!,” he said to him. This meeting is an encounter between revolution and Holy Russia more than a hundred years ago. And how wrathful Saint Seraphim was, seeing the beginning of that villainy! This was a collision of two world views. “One thing is needful: seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you,” says the icon of the venerable one. “Nay,” the face of the officer replies to him, “what is secondary to you is what is most important for us. What you must hold to, we fashion ourselves, in our own way. You submit yourself and your life to God; we do not submit ourselves to anything or anyone.”

This movement prevailed in Russia for a hundred years. The Tsar was slain; the Patriarch was tortured; the people enslaved. But why did this have to be so? Where was the Holy Russia which so loved the venerable one? Its history and life were pushed into the background by secular Russia. This was also Russia, but not profoundly so: a Russia of the soul, not the spirit; of the secular world, not the Church. The venerable Seraphim was a contemporary of Pushkin, Lermontov, Tiutchev, and others. Studying their lives, one would never know that the venerable Seraphim lived at that time, and that Holy Russia, many millions strong, knew him and journeyed thousands of miles to meet him. The writers and poets did not know him as a living man; but seventy years passed, and all of Holy Russia came together with the pious Tsar to kiss his bones and chant in ecstasy, “Christ is risen!”

This secular, soulful Russia, is not alien to the Church. In the writings of Pushkin and Lermontov there are moments of religious inspiration; but all of these are lacking in depth. The Lord Jesus Christ said: “He who is not against you, is for you.” Who will say that this Russia was against? Nay, but on another occasion the Lord also said: “He who is not with you, is against you.” This means that if at the moment when the confession of the Faith is required, a man or society or nation does not have the strength to say, “Yes, I am with you, Lord!” They have apostasized from Him, they are against Him. Soulful, shallow Russia, spiritually indolent, lukewarm, and not fiery, was unable to say this “Yes.”

The venerable one foresaw the great storm and trials of Russia, and said that the Lord would save Russia. He said that, in the eyes of the Lord, there is no better national life than that which is governed by a pious, Orthodox king, that for such a Russia do all the martyrs, righteous ones and saints pray. Of such a Russia did the venerable one speak in spiritual ecstasy, leaping about and clapping his hands, as King David did before the Ark of the Covenant. Such a Russia does not now exist. Or have these men of prayer turned away from us? But what do they want from us? They want what the venerable Seraphim desired and taught. He expected faith from us; he wanted, first and foremost, that we seek the divine world, the kingdom of God and His righteousness, as Christ said in the Gospel (Mt. 6:33). He wants us to submit to this goal ourselves, our thoughts and desires, so that in our life we are not guided by our senses, by our passions and sympathies, but on the contrary, that we eradicate or recast them according to the voice of the righteousness of God. He expects struggle from us, expects commitment to God, expects that we will be fiery, and not lukewarm, spiritual, and not merely soulful. The Lord God has need of men! The righteous pray for us; the venerable Seraphim prays for Russia, and the Lord wishes to save it; but He has need of men, and all the more of Orthodox men, because without them Orthodox Holy Russia cannot be established.

The venerable one calls us to the straight path which is faithful and without compromise. Let us follow him. And when questioned, “Are you with the Church? Are you on the side of righteousness?,” let us answer steadfastly in the affirmative, “Yes!” This is the first and only thing needful, and everything else “will be added unto us,” says Christ.

The content, in brief, of a speech delivered in Belgrade at the solemn assembly of the Brotherhood of Saint Seraphim, on January 15th, 1933.


http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2013/10/what-saint-seraphim-represents-in-russia.html

Ἡ Μαγεία ( Ἅγιος Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης )




Προοίμιο

Ταιριάζει σέ ὅσα θά πῶ παρακάτω, νά δανεισθῶ τό θρηνητικό ἐκεῖνο ρητό τοῦ προφήτη ῾Ιερεμία καί νά φωνάξω κι ἐγώ μέ ὀδύνη : “Ποιός θά βάλει στά μάτια μου πηγή δακρύων, γιά νά κλάψουν πικρά τό λαό τῶν Χριστιανῶν μέρα καί νύχτα;” Γιατί ποιός μπορεῖ, ἀλήθεια, νά μήν τόν κλάψει, ὅταν σκεφθεῖ πώς, ἐνῶ ὁ Υἱός τοῦ Θεοῦ νίκησε μέ τό σταυρικό Του θάνατο ὅλους τούς δαίμονες, οἱ Χριστιανοί τούς ἀναδεικνύουν πάλι νικητές καί τροπαιούχους μέ τίς διάφορες μαγεῖες τους; Καί ποιός μπορεῖ νά μή χύσει πικρά δάκρυα, ὅταν συλλογισθεῖ πώς, ἐνῶ ὁ Κύριός μας ᾿Ιησοῦς Χριστός ἀπάλλαξε ἀπό τήν τυραννία τοῦ διαβόλου τόν κόσμο καί τούς Χριστιανούς, αὐτοί, μέ τή μαγεία, τόν ξαναφέρνουν στόν κόσμο καί τόν ξανακάνουν τύραννό τους;

Εἶναι ἤ δέν εἶναι, λοιπόν, γιά κλάματα ἡ τωρινή κατάσταση τῶν Χριστιανῶν, ἀφοῦ, μέ τά μαγικά καμώματα καί σατανικά τεχνάσματά τους, ἀναβιώνουν στήν οὐσία τή λατρεία τῶν δαιμόνων; ᾿Ενῶ δηλαδή φανερά λατρεύουν τόν ἀληθινό Θεό, κρυφά τόν ἀρνοῦνται καί λατρεύουν τό διάβολο. Τό μεγαλύτερο μάλιστα κακό εἶναι τοῦτο : Μολονότι χρησιμοποιοῦν ἕνα σωρό μαγικά, οὔτε πού καταλαβαίνουν πώς ἀρνοῦνται ἔτσι τό Θεό, καταφρονοῦν τό Χριστό καί ἀγκαλιάζουν τό διάβολο. Τί μεγάλη πλάνη! Κρυφή καί ἀπατηλή, ψυχώλεθρη καί θανατηφόρα!

Γι᾿ αὐτό, λοιπόν, ἀποφάσισα νά ἐλέγξω τήν πλάνη καί ν’ ἀποδείξω ὅτι οἱ Χριστιανοί οὔτε μάγοι πρέπει νά γίνονται οὔτε κανένα εἶδος μαγείας νά χρησιμοποιοῦν.


Τά εἴδη τῆς μαγείας εἶναι πολλά.

᾿Αφοῦ ὁ διάβολος χωρίστηκε ἀπό τόν ἕνα Θεό, ἔπεσε στά πολλά κι ἔγινε “ποικίλος καί πολυμέριστος”. ῎Ετσι καί τά εἴδη τῆς κακίας καί τῶν μαγικῶν, πού ἐπινόησε καί ἔσπειρε στούς ταλαίπωρους ἀνθρώπους, εἶναι ποικίλα, σχεδόν ἀναρίθμητα.

Καί νά τά βασικότερα εἴδη :

1. ῾Η καθαυτό μαγεία. Εἶναι, θά λέγαμε, μιά τέχνη, μέ τήν ὁποία καλοῦνται οἱ δαίμονες καί ἐρωτοῦνται καί ἀπαντοῦν, φανερώνοντας ἄλλοτε κρυμμένους θησαυρούς, ἄλλοτε ἑρμηνεῖες ὀνείρων καί ἄλλοτε ἄλλα ἀπόκρυφα. ῞Οσοι ἀσκοῦν αὐτή τήν “τέχνη” ὀνομάζονται μάγοι, καί ἰσχυρίζονται ὅτι ὑπάρχουν τρεῖς τάξεις δαιμόνων· οἱ ἐναέριοι, πού τούς θεωροῦν ἀγαθοποιούς· οἱ ἐπίγειοι, πού τούς θεωροῦν καί καλούς καί κακούς· καί οἱ κάτω ἀπό τή γῆ, πού τούς χαρακτηρίζουν ὡς κακοποιούς. Στήν πραγματικότητα, βέβαια, ὅλοι οἱ δαίμονες εἶναι κακοί καί κακοποιοί, ποτέ ἀγαθοποιοί.

2. ῾Η μαντεία. ᾿Ασκεῖται ἀπό τούς μάντεις. Αὐτοί ὑπηρετοῦν τούς δαίμονες, χρησιμοποιώντας τήν παλάμη τοῦ χεριοῦ τους ἤ κάποιες θυσίες ἤ ἀπατηλά ἔμπλαστρα ἤ ἄλλα παρόμοια μέσα. Οἱ μάντεις λένε ὅτι μποροῦν νά γνωρίσουν τό μέλλον.

3. ῾Η γοητεία. ᾿Ασκεῖται ἀπό τούς γόητες. ᾿Ονομάζονται ἔτσι ἀπό τούς “γόους” (θρήνους), πού κάνουν στά μνήματα, ὅταν ἐπικαλοῦνται τούς δαίμονες καί τούς ζητοῦν νά βλάψουν ἕναν ἄνθρωπο - νά τόν παραλύσουν, νά τόν τυφλώσουν, νά τόν ἀρρωστήσουν γενικά. Αὐτοί, ἐπίσης, καμώνονται πώς βγάζουν καί νεκρούς ἀπό τόν ἅδη! Στούς γόητες ἀνήκουν κι ἐκεῖνοι πού “βλέπουν” διάφορα φαντάσματα στούς τάφους καί ἀνοίγοντάς τους, καῖνε δῆθεν τούς βρυκόλακες! Μιά κατηγορία αὐτῶν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, πού λέγονται γητευτές, μαζί μέ τίς ἐπικλήσεις τῶν δαιμόνων ἀνακατεύουν ψαλμούς τοῦ Δαβίδ καί ὀνόματα ἁγίων, τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τῆς Θεοτόκου.

4. ῾Η φαρμακεία. Οἱ φαρμακοί κατασκευάζουν κάποια “φαρμακερά” ποτά εἴτε γιά νά θανατώσουν κάποιον εἴτε γιά νά σκοτίσουν τό νοῦ του εἴτε γιά νά τόν ἑλκύσουν σέ σαρκικό ἔρωτα. Αὐτά, κατεξοχήν, χρησιμοποιοῦν οἱ γυναῖκες γιά νά “πλανέψουν” καί νά τραβήξουν τούς ἄνδρες πού θέλουν.

5. ῾Η οἰωνοσκοπία. Οἱ οἰωνοσκόποι προλέγουν δῆθεν τά μέλλοντα ἀπό τόν τρόπο πού πετοῦν τά πουλιά, ἀπό τίς φωνές τῶν ζώων κ.λπ. Τέτοιοι, οὐσιαστικά, εἶναι καί οἱ προληπτικοί : Αὐτοί προσέχουν ποιούς θά συναντήσουν, ὅταν μάλιστα πρόκειται νά ταξίδεψουν ἤ νά ψαρέψουν ἤ, τέλος πάντων, νά κάνουν κάποια ἐργασία. ᾿Επίσης πιστεύουν στή μοίρα, στήν τύχη (τό “ριζικό”, τό “γούρι”), σέ οἰωνούς, σέ ποδαρικά καί ὄνειρα. Θεωροῦν ἄλλες ἡμέρες καλές καί ἄλλες κακές, ὅπως λ.χ. τίς Τρίτες, καί φοβοῦνται ν’ ἀρχίσουν ὁτιδήποτε τίς “κακές” ἡμέρες. Τό ᾿χουν “γρουσουζιά” νά δώσουν στούς γείτονες φῶς καί φωτιά. Προσκυνοῦν τό νέο φεγγάρι. Πιστεύουν σέ νεράϊδες καί καλλικάντζαρους. Περιεργάζονται τίς φυσικές ἀντιδράσεις τοῦ σώματός τους καί λένε ὅτι τό τάδε θά τούς συμβεῖ, ἐπειδή λ.χ. τούς τρώει τό χέρι τους ἤ παίζει τό μάτι τους ἤ βουίζει τ᾿ αὐτί τους κ.ο.κ. ῞Οταν θεμελιώνουν σπίτι ἤ ἀρχίζουν τή ναυπήγηση πλοίου, σφάζουν στά θεμέλια ἤ στήν καρίνα ἕναν πετεινό ἤ πρόβατο ἤ ἄλλο ζῶο, προσφέροντας ἔτσι θυσία στό διάβολο.

6. ῾Η ἀστρολογία. Οἱ ἀστρολόγοι λένε ὅτι οἱ κατά προαίρεση ἐνέργειες τῶν ἀνθρώπων ὁρίζονται ἀπό τήν κίνηση τῶν ἄστρων. Στ᾿ ἀστέρια ἀποδίδουν τίς ὁρμές τῆς ψυχῆς καί στούς σχηματισμούς τους τά διάφορα γεγονότα τῆς ζωῆς. ᾿Απ᾿ αὐτά, καί μέ τή συνέργεια τῶν δαιμόνων, μαντεύουν δῆθεν τό μέλλον, ἀντιμετωπίζοντας ἔτσι τ᾿ ἀστέρια σάν ἰδιότυπους “θεούς”.

7. Τά φυλαχτά. Τά χρησιμοποιοῦν οἱ φυλαχτάρηδες, τυλίγοντας σ᾿ αὐτά μεταξωτή κλωστή καί γράφοντας ὀνόματα δαιμονικά. Πολλοί τά κρεμᾶνε ἀπό τό λαιμό ἤ τό χέρι τους γιά νά τούς φυλᾶνε ἀπό τό κακό. ῞Ομοιοι μ᾿ αὐτούς εἶναι κι ἐκεῖνοι πού φτύνουν στόν κόρφο τους, γιά νά ἐμποδίσουν τάχα μέ τό φτύσιμο τή βασκανία.

8. Οἱ κλήδονες. Μέ τούς κλήδονες προσπαθοῦν νά “μαντέψουν” δῆθεν τό μέλλον καί τό “ριζικό” κάθε ἀνθρώπου μέ διάφορους λόγους, κλήσεις καί ἄλλα παρόμοια. Κλήδονες γίνονται μέχρι σήμερα σέ πολλούς τόπους, καί μάλιστα στά νησιά, στό Γενέσιο τοῦ Τιμίου Προδρόμου (24 ᾿Ιουνίου). Συνήθως συνδυάζονται καί μέ φωτιές, πού τίς ἀνάβουν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μπροστά στά μαγαζιά τους καί τίς περνᾶνε ἀπό πάνω.
Αὐτά εἶναι τά κυριότερα εἴδη τῆς μαγείας. ῾Υπάρχουν καί ἄλλα πολλά. Τά περισσότερα ἀναφέρονται στήν ῾Αγία Γραφή καί σέ κανόνες ἱερῶν Συνόδων, (κυρίως τῆς ΣΤ ´ Οἰκουμενικῆς).


Γιατί ὁ Θεός ἀπαγορεύει τά μαγικά;

Καιρός εἶναι τώρα νά ποῦμε, πώς εἶναι ἐντελῶς ἀπαράδεκτο νά γίνονται ἀπό τούς Χριστιανούς ὅλ᾿ αὐτά τά εἴδη τῶν μαγικῶν. Γιατί ἄν αὐτά ἀπαγορεύονται στούς ῾Εβραίους, πού ἦταν πνευματικά νήπιοι, πόσο μᾶλλον ἀπαγορεύονται στούς Χριστιανούς, τά τέκνα τῆς ἀλήθειας καί τῆς χάριτος τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου;

Στό Δευτερονόμιο ὁ Θεός πρόσταζε τούς ῾Εβραίους·: “Νά μή βρεθεῖ σέ σένα (᾿Ισραήλ) κανένας, πού νά μαντεύει μαντεῖες, πού νά προβλέπει τά μέλλοντα μέ φωνές (κλήδονες) καί παρατηρήσεις σημείων (οἰωνῶν)· μάγος, πού ν᾿ ἀσχολεῖται μέ ἐπαοιδία· ἐγγαστρίμυθος καί τερατοσκόπος, πού νά καλεῖ τούς νεκρούς” (Δευτ. 18:10). Στό Λευϊτικό, μάλιστα, προσθέτει νά μήν πλησιάζει κανένας ἐκείνους πού κάνουν αὐτά τά πράγματα, γιά νά μή μολυνθεῖ: “Νά μήν προσκολληθεῖτε (σέ μάγους) καί μολυνθεῖτε ἀπ᾿ αὐτούς · ἐγώ εἶμαι ὁ Κύριος καί Θεός σας!” (Λευϊτ. 19:26, 31).

῾Ο Θεός ἀπαγορεύει τά μαγικά, ἐπειδή ὁδηγοῦν τόσο ἐκείνους πού τά χρησιμοποιοῦν, ὅσο καί ἐκείνους πού τά ζητοῦν, στήν προσκύνηση καί τή λατρεία τῶν δαιμόνων. Γι᾿ αὐτό καί ἀποτελοῦν θανάσιμη ἁμαρτία. ᾿Από τήν ἄλλη, πάλι, τά μαγικά δέν μποροῦν νά προσφέρουν καμιά ὠφέλεια. “Οἱ μαντεῖες καί οἱ οἰωνισμοί καί τά ὄνειρα εἶναι μάταια”, λέει ἡ Γραφή (Σειράχ 34:5).

Γι᾿ αὐτό τό λόγο οἱ ἅγιοι ᾿Απόστολοι δίνουν ἐντολή στούς Χριστιανούς νά μή χρησιμοποιοῦν κανενός εἴδους μαγικά· “οὐ μαγεύσεις, οὐ φαρμακεύσεις” (Διαταγ. 7,3)· “φεύγετε.....ἐπαοιδάς, κλήδονας, μαντείας, καθαρισμούς, οἰωνισμούς, ὀρνιθοσκοπίας, νεκρομαντείας, ἐπιφωνήσεις” (δ.π. 2,62)

Σκεφθεῖτε, Χριστιανοί, πώς ὅταν λάβατε τό ἅγιο Βάπτισμα, σᾶς ρώτησε ὁ ἱερέας - ἤ μᾶλλον ὁ ἴδιος ὁ Χριστός: “᾿Αποτάσσῃ τῷ σατανᾷ καί πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ καί πάσῃ τῇ λατρείᾳ αὐτοῦ καί πάσῃ τῇ πομπῇ αὐτοῦ;”. Καί ὁ καθένας ἀπό σᾶς, μέ τό στόμα τοῦ ἀναδόχου του, ἀπάντησε: “᾿Αποτάσσομαι”. ῞Οχι μόνο τό σατανά, ἀλλά καί ὅλα τά ἔργα του καί τή λατρεία του καί τήν πομπή του. ᾿Αλλά ποιά εἶναι ἡ λατρεία τοῦ σατανᾶ; ῾Ο ἅγιος Κύριλλος ῾Ιεροσολύμων ἀπαντάει, πώς εἶναι οἱ μαντεῖες, οἱ φαρμακεῖες καί ὅλα τά ἄλλα εἴδη τῶν μαγικῶν, πού ἀπαριθμήσαμε. Καί ποιά εἶναι ἡ πομπή του; ῾Ο ἱερός Χρυσόστομος λέει, πώς εἶναι τά θέατρα, οἱ ἱπποδρομίες, οἱ κλήδονες καί κάθε ἁμαρτία.

Δέν καταλαβαίνετε λοιπόν, ἀδελφοί, πώς γιά ἐκείνη τήν ὁμολογία καί ὑπόσχεσή σας τήν ὥρα τοῦ ἁγίου Βαπτίσματος, θά σᾶς ζητηθεῖ λόγος τήν ἡμέρα τῆς Κρίσεως; Δέν ξέρετε ὅτι πρέπει νά τηρήσετε ἀπόλυτα τή συμφωνία, πού κάνατε μέ τό Θεό; Πῶς ἀφήνετε τό Χριστό καί πηγαίνετε στούς μάγους καί τίς μάγισσες, δηλαδή στόν ἴδιο τό διάβολο;

Αὐτός ὁ λόγος “ἀποτάσσομαί σοι, σατανᾶ, καί πάσῃ τῇ λατρείᾳ σου καί πάσῃ τῇ πομπῇ σου”, ἄς εἶναι πάντα στό στόμα σας καί στό νοῦ σας, σάν χαλινάρι καί ἐμπόδιο ἀπό κάθε εἴδος μαγείας. Αὐτός ὁ λόγος θά σᾶς κάνει νά μή φοβᾶστε τά “κακά συναπαντήματα”(!) τῶν ἀνθρώπων, οὔτε κρωγμούς καί πετάγματα πουλιῶν καί ἄλλα παρόμοια, ὅταν βγαίνετε ἀπό τό σπίτι σας. Αὐτός ὁ λόγος, συνδυασμένος μέ τό σημεῖο τοῦ Σταυροῦ, θά σᾶς κάνει να μή φοβᾶστε οὔτε τόν διάβολο μέ ὅλη του τή δαιμονική παράταξη. Μόνο μήν παύετε νά τόν ἐπαναλαμβάνετε παντοῦ καί πάντοτε, ὅπως συμβουλεύει ἡ χρυσόλαλη γλώσσα τοῦ ἁγίου ῾Ιωάννου: “Παρακαλῶ νά μένετε καθαροί ἀπό τήν ἀπάτη τῆς μαγείας, ἔχοντας σάν στήριγμα αὐτό τό λόγο. Καί ὅπως δέν θά πηγαίνατε ποτέ στήν ἀγορά χωρίς ροῦχα ἤ παπούτσια, ἔτσι νά μήν πηγαίνετε πουθενά καί χωρίς νά λέτε, ξεκινώντας, τή φράση: “᾿Αποτάσσομαί σοι, σατανᾶ, καί τῇ πομπῇ σου καί τῇ λατρείᾳ σου, καί συντάσσομαί σοι, Χριστέ”. Ποτέ μή βγεῖς ἀπό τήν πόρτα τοῦ σπιτιοῦ σου χωρίς τά παραπάνω λόγια. Γιατί εἶναι τό στήριγμά σου, τό ὅπλο σου, τό ἄπαρτο κάστρο πού σέ περιτειχίζει. Παράλληλα σφραγίσου καί μέ τό σημεῖο τοῦ Σταυροῦ. ῎Ετσι, ὄχι μόνο ἄνθρωπος, μά οὔτε κι αὐτός ὁ διάβολος δέν θά μπορέσει νά σέ βλάψει, βλέποντάς σε παντοῦ μ᾿ αὐτή τήν πανοπλία”.


Γιατί οἱ Χριστιανοί ἔπεσαν στά μαγικά.

῾Η αἰτία πού οἱ σημερινοί Χριστιανοί ἔπεσαν στά ἔργα τοῦ διαβόλου, καί μάλιστα στά μαγικά, εἶναι τό ὅτι δέν συλλογίζονται τίς ὑποσχέσεις ἐκεῖνες πού ἔδωσαν στό Χριστό ὅταν βαπτίσθηκαν, ἀλλά τίς ξέχασαν καί τίς ἔσβησαν τελείως ἀπό τή μνήμη τους καί τήν καρδιά τους. Γι᾿ αὐτό καί πραγματοποιοῦνται σ᾿ αὐτούς τά λόγια πού εἶπε ὁ Κύριος: “῞Οταν τό ἀκάθαρτο πνεῦμα (τό δαιμόνιο) βγεῖ ἀπό τόν ἄνθρωπο, περιδιαβαίνει σέ τόπους ἄνυδρους ζητώντας ἀνάπαυση, μά δέν βρίσκει. (Γιατί ἀνάπαυση βρίσκει μόνο ὅταν κυριεύει τόν ἄνθρωπο καί τοῦ κάνει κακό). Τότε λέει: “᾿Ας γυρίσω πάλι στό σπιτάκι μου (δηλαδή στήν καρδιά τοῦ ἀνθρώπου), ἀπ᾿ ὅπου ἔφυγα”. Κι ὅταν ἔρθει, βρίσκει τό σπίτι ἀφύλαχτο, σκουπισμένο, στολισμένο, ἕτοιμο. (Βρίσκει δηλαδή τόν ἄνθρωπο ἀμέριμνο καί διατεθειμένο νά τόν δεχθεῖ πάλι). Τότε πηγαίνει, φέρνει κι ἄλλα ἑπτά δαιμόνια, πονηρότερα μάλιστα, μπαίνει μαζί τους στήν καρδιά τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί κατοικεῖ ἐκεῖ μόνιμα πιά.῎Ετσι ἡ κατάσταση τοῦ ἀνθρώπου γίνεται τελικά χειρότερη ἀπ᾿ ὅ,τι ἦταν πρίν (κι ἀπό τό Βάπτισμα!).” (Ματθ. 12:43-45).

῞Οσοι λοιπόν Χριστιανοί ἀσχολοῦνται μέ τά μαγικά, διώχνουν ἀπό τίς καρδιές τους τή θεία χάρη, τό Πνεῦμα τό ῞Αγιο, καί βάζουν μέσα τους τό ἀκάθαρτο πνεῦμα, τό δαιμόνιο. Μέ τή δαιμονική ἐνέργεια τότε, κάνουν κάθε τι σατανικό καί περίεργο.

Πῶς μποροῦν, ἑπομένως, ὅσοι ἀσχολοῦνται μέ τά μαγικά, νά εἶναι ἤ νά λέγονται Χριστιανοί; Χριστιανοί καί μάγοι; Χριστιανοί καί δαιμονολάτρες; ᾿Ανήκουστο! ᾿Αδύνατο! Πῶς νά συμφωνήσουν τό φῶς μέ τό σκοτάδι, τά τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ μέ τά τέκνα τοῦ διαβόλου;... Μάταια λένε αὐτοί οἱ ἄνθρωποι πώς εἶναι Χριστιανοί. Μέ τά λόγια μόνο εἶναι Χριστιανοί, μά μέ τά ἔργα τους προδότες τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἀσεβεῖς εἰδωλολάτρες καί σατανολάτρες.


Οἱ δαίμονες δέν θεραπεύουν ἀλλά θανατώνουν.

᾿Αλλά τί προφασίζονται μερικοί Χριστιανοί;

᾿Εμεῖς, λένε, καταφεύγουμε στούς μάγους (δηλαδή στούς δαίμονες!) ἐπειδή
α) βρίσκουμε γιατρειά στίς ἀρρώστιες μας,
β) μαθαίνουμε τό μέλλον καί ἄλλα κρυφά πράγματα,
γ) φοβόμαστε τούς δαίμονες καί θέλουμε, διαμέσου τῆς μαγείας, νά τούς ἐξευμενίσουμε.

᾿Απαντοῦμε λοιπόν σ᾿ αὐτά·

α) Μόνο ὁ Θεός θεραπεύει ἀληθινά.

᾿Ανόητε ἄνθρωπε, καταφεύγεις στούς μάγους γιά νά γιατρευτεῖς; Καί πιστεύεις, πώς ὁ διάβολος θά γιατρέψει πραγματικά τήν ἀρρώστια σου; ᾿Εκεῖνος “ἀνθρωποκτόνος ἦν ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς” (᾿Ιω. 8:44), καί θανάτωσε ὅλο τό γένος τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Πῶς τώρα θά γίνει γιατρός σου; Δέν εἶδες, πού οἱ δαίμονες δέν μπόρεσαν νά γιατρέψουν οὔτε τούς δικούς τους μάγους ἀπό τίς πληγές πού τούς προξένησε ὁ Μωϋσῆς στήν Αἴγυπτο; (᾿Εξόδ. 9:11). Καί τώρα θά κάνουν καλά ἐσένα; Καί ἄν οἱ δαίμονες δέν λυποῦνται τήν ψυχή σου, πῶς θά λυπηθοῦν τό σῶμα σου; ᾿Αστεῖα πράγματα! Γιατί δέν ὑπάρχει τίποτα γλυκύτερο γιά τό διάβολο ἀπό τό νά τυραννάει τόν ἄνθρωπο μέ κάθε τρόπο. Εὐκολότερο εἶναι νά δώσει κρύο ἡ φωτιά καί φλόγα τό χιόνι, παρά νά γιατρέψει ὁ διάβολος πραγματικά. Οὔτε μπορεῖ οὔτε θέλει οὔτε ξέρει πῶς νά γιατρεύει. ᾿Αλλά κι ἄν ὑποτεθεῖ ὅτι καί μπορεῖ καί θέλει καί ξέρει, ὅμως ἄν δέν τοῦ ἐπιτρέψει ὁ Θεός, ἀπό μόνος του δέν μπορεῖ νά κάνει τίποτα.

Πίστεψε λοιπόν, ἀδελφέ, ὅτι μόνο ὁ Θεός εἶναι ὁ ἀληθινός γιατρός ψυχῶν καί σωμάτων. Οἱ μάγοι καί οἱ δαίμονες γιατρεύουν ὄχι στ᾿ ἀλήθεια ἀλλά φανταστικά. Μά κι ἄν θελήσουν νά γιατρέψουν τό σῶμα σου μέ παραχώρηση τοῦ Θεοῦ, νά ξέρεις ὅτι τό γιατρεύουν μέ σκοπό νά θανατώσουν τήν ψυχή σου. Πῶς; Τραβώντας σε ἀπό τήν πίστη τοῦ Χριστοῦ καί πείθοντάς σε νά πιστεύεις σ᾿ ἐκείνους. Ποιά λοιπόν ἡ ὠφέλειά σου, ἄν ἐδῶ ἔχεις πρόσκαιρη ὑγεία, ἐκεῖ ὅμως κολαστεῖς αἰώνια; Νά χαθεῖ τέτοια ὑγεία! Νά χαθεῖ τέτοια ζωή!

῾Ο διάβολος, ἀδελφοί μου, εἶναι ἕνας ψαράς πολύ πανοῦργος. Βάζει μικρό δόλωμα καί θέλει νά πιάσει μεγάλο ψάρι. Μέ χάρα σᾶς δίνει λίγη ὑγεία, μόνο καί μόνο γιά νά σᾶς στερήσει τόν παράδεισο, γιά νά σᾶς κολάσει αἰώνια!

Πῶς μπορεῖτε λοιπόν, γιά τό παραμικρό πρόβλημα, νά ἐγκαταλείπετε τό γλυκύτατο Χριστό - τόν ποιητή, τό λυτρωτή, τόν ἀληθινό γιατρό σας - καί νά πηγαίνετε στόν καταραμένο διάβολο - τό φονιά καί τύραννό σας; Πῶς σᾶς κάνει καρδιά νά καταφρονεῖτε τόσους ἁγίους, πού εἶναι φίλοι καί εὐεργέτες καί θεραπευτές σας, καί νά καταφεύγετε στούς μάγους καί τούς δαίμονες, πού εἶναι οἱ πιό ἄσπονδοι ἐχθροί σας;

Μά πιστεύετε στ᾿ ἀλήθεια, πώς αὐτά πού κάνει μιά ἀλλοπαρμένη κακόγρια, μιά τσιγγάνα, μιά μάγισσα, δέν μπορεῖ νά τά κάνει καί ὁ Χριστός; Πιστεύετε πώς μέ τά κάρβουνα καί τά πέταλα καί τά διαβολικά φυλαχτά δέν ἔχουν ἴση τουλάχιστο δύναμη ὁ Σταυρός, ὁ ἁγιασμός καί τά ἄλλα σωτήρια ἰαματικά μέσα τῆς πίστεώς μας; ῎Αχ, ἀχάριστα πλάσματα! ῎Αχ, γενεά ἄπιστη καί σκληρόκαρδη! Πόσο δίκιο ἔχει ὁ Χριστός μας νά λυπᾶται καί νά φωνάζει παραπονετικά μαζί μέ τόν προφήτη ῾Ησαΐα: “῎Ακουε, οὐρανέ, καί ἐνωτίζου, γῆ... υἱούς ἐγέννησα καί ὕψωσα, αὐτοί δέ με ἠθέτησαν” (῾Ησ.1:2).

Γιά νά μή λυπᾶται λοιπόν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐξαιτίας σας, γιά νά μή φαίνεστε κι ἐσεῖς ἀχάριστοι στό μεγάλο αὐτό Εὐεργέτη σας, σᾶς παρακαλῶ ἀδελφοί μου, μήν πηγαίνετε σέ μάγους καί μάγισσες καί τσιγγάνες. Κι ὅταν ἀρρωσταίνετε, νά προστρέχετε στό Χριστό μέ ζωντανή πίστη καί νά ζητᾶτε ἀπ᾿ Αὐτόν τή γιατρειά σας. Γιατί Αὐτός εἶναι ὁ φιλόστοργος πατέρας σας. Κι ἄν σᾶς ἔδωσε τήν ἀρρώστια, σᾶς τήν ἔδωσε γιά νά δοκιμάσει τήν ὑπομονή σας, γιά νά σᾶς στεφανώσει περισσότερο καί γιά νά δεῖ ἄν τόν ἀγαπᾶτε γνήσια. Νά προστρέχετε ἀκόμα στήν Κυρία Θεοτόκο, πού θεραπεύει τούς ἀσθενεῖς καί παρηγορεῖ τούς λυπημένους. Νά προστρέχετε, τέλος, στούς ἀγίους Πάντες καί νά τούς παρακαλεῖτε μέ θέρμη. ῎Ετσι θά πετύχετε τήν ἀληθινή θεραπεία σας.

Κι ἄν ὅμως δέν βρεῖτε τήν πολυπόθητη ὑγεία, κι ἄν ὁ Θεός σᾶς ἀφήσει νά ταλαιπωρεῖστε, ἐπειδή αὐτό συμφέρει τήν ψυχή σας, και πάλι πρέπει νά στέκεστε ἀνδρεῖοι καί στερεοί στήν πίστη. Χίλιες φορές νά προτιμήσετε τό θανάτο, παρά νά καταφύγετε σέ μάγους καί ν᾿ ἀρνηθεῖτε ἔτσι τό Χριστό.

β) Μόνο ὁ Θεός γνωρίζει τά ἀπόκρυφα.

῞Οσοι θέλουν νά μάθουν τό μέλλον ἤ διάφορα κρυφά πράγματα, ἄς γνωρίζουν, ὅτι μόνο ὁ Θεός ξέρει ὅλα τά ἀπόκρυφα καί μόνο ὁ Θεός προγνωρίζει τά μέλλοντα. Οἱ ἄγγελοι καί οἱ ἄνθρωποι γνωρίζουν κάποτε τά μυστικά αὐτά πράγματα, ὄχι ὅμως ἀπό μόνοι τους, ἀλλ’ ἀπό ἀποκάλυψη τοῦ Θεοῦ. Οἱ μάγοι καί οἱ δαίμονες, πάντως, ἐπειδή εἶναι σκοτισμένοι καί δέν ἔχουν τό φωτισμό τοῦ Θεοῦ, δέν μποροῦν νά γνωρίζουν τίποτε κρυφό, οὔτε τί μέλλει νά συμβεῖ στόν κάθε ἄνθρωπο. Γιατί ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἶναι αὐτεξούσιος. ῎Αν θέλει, κλίνει στό καλό· ἄν δέν θέλει τό καλό, κλίνει στό κακό. ῎Αρα εἶναι ἄγνωστη ἡ ἐξέλιξη καί κατάληξή του. Γι᾿ αὐτό καί ὁ Θεός περιγελᾶ τή Βαβυλώνα, πού οἱ κάτοικοί της πίστευαν στούς ἀστρολόγους καί στούς δαίμονες, καί τῆς λέει: “῎Ας σέ σώσουν τώρα οἱ ἀστρολόγοι, ἄς προβλέψουν τί πρόκειται νά σοῦ συμβεῖ!” (῾Ησ. 47:13).

Προγνωρίζουν, βεβαία, πολλά οἱ δαίμονες, ἀλλά τά ἐξωτερικά καί φυσικά, συμπεραίνοντας τά γεγονότα ἀπό τούς νόμους τῆς φύσεως. ῞Οπως, ἄλλωστε, καί πολλοί ἄνθρωποι σοφοί καί ἐπιστήμονες. Αὐτά ὅμως πού βρίσκονται στό βάθος τῆς καρδιᾶς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί ἐξαρτῶνται ἀπό τήν προαίρεσή του, μόνο ὁ Θεός τά γνωρίζει μέ ἀκρίβεια. ᾿Εκεῖνοι συμπεραίνουν μερικά ἀπό τίς κινήσεις τοῦ σώματος καί τήν ἐξωτερική συμπεριφορά τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. ῎Ετσι, καί ὅσα φαίνονται νά προγνωρίζουν, τά γνωρίζουν σκοτεινά, ἀσαφή καί λοξά. Γι᾿ αὐτό καί οἱ χρησμοί τῶν μαντείων ἦταν διφορούμενοι, καί μποροῦσαν νά ἑρμηνευθοῦν καί ἔτσι καί ἀλλιῶς.

῎Ας ἔρθουν τώρα ἐδῶ οἱ Χριστιανοί, πού πηγαίνουν στούς μάντεις καί τίς μάντισσες εἴτε γιά νά τούς ποῦν τό μέλλον εἴτε γιά νά τούς ἐξηγήσουν τά ὄνειρά τους εἴτε γιά νά τούς φανερώσουν χαμένα πράγματα ἤ κρυμμένους θησαυρούς. ῎Ας ἔρθουν, λέω, γιά νά τούς πῶ ὅ,τι εἶπε καί ὁ προφήτης ῾Ησαΐας κάποτε στόν ᾿Ισραήλ: ᾿Ανόητοι ἄνθρωποι, ὥς πότε θά κουτσαίνετε κι ἀπό τά δυό σας πόδια; ῞Ως πότε θά πιστεύετε καί στό Χριστό καί στούς μάντεις, δηλαδή τούς δαίμονες; Γιατί ἄν πιστεύετε πώς ὁ Χριστός, ὡς Θεός πού εἶναι, γνωρίζει τά πάντα καί τά φανερώνει σέ ὅσους ᾿Εκεῖνος θέλει, πῶς τρέχετε στούς μάντεις; ῎Αν, ἀντίθετα, πιστεύετε πώς οἱ μάντεις ἔχουν τήν γνώση τῆς ἀλήθειας, πῶς προσκυνᾶτε τό Χριστό καί ὀνομάζεστε μάταια Χριστιανοί; Δέν ξέρετε, πώς δέν μπορεῖτε νά δουλεύετε σέ δυό κυρίους;


Γιατί ὅμως, θά ρωτήσετε, κάποτε βγαίνουν ἀληθινά μερικά πράγματα, πού προλέγουν οἱ δαίμονες;

α) ᾿Επειδή δέν πιστεύετε ἀκράδαντα στόν Κύριο καί μόνο, ἀλλά καί στούς δαίμονες. ῎Ετσι, γιά τήν ἀπιστία σας, ὁ Θεος παραχωρεῖ νά γίνονται αὐτά πού ἐκεῖνοι προλέγουν.

β) ᾿Επειδή, πηγαίνοντας στούς δαίμονες καί ζητώντας τήν βοήθειά τους, γίνεστε μόνοι σας δοῦλοι τοῦ διαβόλου, μπαίνετε κάτω ἀπό τήν ἐξουσία του. ῎Ετσι, μπορεῖ πιά νά σᾶς κάνει ὅ,τι θέλει. ῎Αρα, ὅ,τι σᾶς πεῖ τό πραγματοποιεῖ κιόλας, ὅπως ἕνας κακοῦργος πού σκλαβώνει κάποιον ἄνθρωπο· ἄν τοῦ πεῖ ὅτι θά ζήσει, θά ζήσει· ἄν τοῦ πεῖ πώς θά πεθάνει, θά πεθάνει. Γιατί εἶναι στό χέρι τοῦ κακούργου νά κάνει εἴτε τό ἕνα εἴτε τό ἄλλο. Λέει σχετικά ὁ ἅγιος ᾿Ιωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος: “῎Ας ὑποθέσουμε, πώς ἕνα βασιλόπουλο ἐγκαταλείπει τό παλάτι του, πάει σέ τόπο ἔρημο καί μπαίνει θεληματικά κάτω ἀπό τήν ἐξουσία ἑνός λήσταρχου. Πές μου, μπορεῖ αὐτός ὁ λήσταρχος νά τοῦ πεῖ ἀπό πρίν μέ βεβαιότητα ἄν θά ζήσει ἤ θά πεθάνει; Καί βέβαια μπορεῖ! ῎Οχι ὅμως ἐπειδή προεῖδε τό μέλλον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδή, ἔχοντας γίνει κύριος τοῦ βασιλόπουλου, ἔχει τή δυνατότητα νά τοῦ κάνει ὅ,τι θέλει - εἴτε νά τό θανατώσει εἴτε νά τοῦ χαρίσει τή ζωή”.

Γι᾿ αὐτό, ἀδελφοί μου Χριστιανοί, μήν πιστεύετε στήν πρόγνωση τῶν δαιμόνων, γιατί στήν πραγματικότητα δέν προγνωρίζουν τίποτα. Στόν Κύριο μόνο νά ἔχετε πίστη βαθειά, κι ᾿Εκεῖνος θά σᾶς φανερώσει ἐκεῖνα πού πρέπει νά γνωρίζετε.


γ) Οἱ Χριστιανοί δέν πρέπει νά φοβοῦνται τό διάβολο καί τούς δαίμονες.

Γιατί, Χριστιανοί μου, μέ τά διάφορα μαγικά κάνετε τά χατήρια τοῦ διαβόλου; Αὐτός δέν ἔχει ἐξουσία καί δύναμη νά προκαλέσει οὔτε τόν παραμικρό πειρασμό. ᾿Αφ᾿ ὅτου ὁ Χριστός σαρκώθηκε, ὁ διάβολος ἔχασε τήν τυραννική του ἐξουσία. ῾Ο ἐνανθρωπήσας Κύριος τοῦ συνέτριψε τήν κεφαλή κι ἄφησε μόνο τήν οὐρά του νά σαλεύει, ἔτσι, γιά νά γυμνάζονται καί νά στεφανώνονται οἱ πιστοί. Τώρα μόνο μέ ἀπάτες παγιδεύει τούς ἀνθρώπους στήν κακία καί ὄχι τυραννικά, ὅπως πρίν. Δηλαδή μόνο κακές σκέψεις μπορεῖ νά μᾶς βάζει, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπό τή δική μας θέληση ἐξαρτᾶται ἄν θά τίς δεχθοῦμε ἤ θά τίς διώξουμε. Κανένας πειρασμός, δέν μπορεῖ νά συμβεῖ στόν ἄνθρωπο, ἄν δέν τό ἐπιτρέψει ὁ Θεός. Μάταια, λοιπόν, καλοπιάνετε τούς δαίμονες μέ τίς μαγεῖες, γιατί δέν μποροῦν νά κάνουν τίποτα χωρίς τήν ἄδεια τοῦ Θεοῦ.


Πῶς τιμωρεῖ ὁ Θεός τούς μάγους καί ὅσους προστρέχουν σ᾿ αὐτούς.

Μετά ἀπ᾿ ὅσα εἴπαμε, εἶναι εὐνόητο γιατί ὁ Θεός τιμωρεῖ αὐστηρά ὅσους ἀσχολοῦνται μέ τά μαγικά ἤ τά χρησιμοποιοῦν.

Στήν Παλαιά Διαθήκη πρόσταζε νά θανατώνονται μέ λιθοβολισμό ὅσοι γίνονταν μάγοι, φαρμακοί κ.λπ. (Λευϊτ. 20:27). ᾿Αλλά καί πλήθη ὁλόκληρα ἀνθρώπων, πόλεις μεγάλες καί ἔνδοξες, παραδόθηκαν σέ πεῖνες καί σφαγές καί ἀφανισμούς ἐξαιτίας τῶν μαγικῶν, ὅπως ἡ Νινευΐ (Ναούμ 3:1), ἡ Βαβυλώνα (῾Ησ. 47:1-9), ἀκόμα καί ἡ ῾Ιερουσαλήμ (῾Ιερ. 14:14).

῾Η ᾿Εκκλησία μας, ἐπίσης ὁρίζει μεγάλες τιμωρίες (ἐπιτίμια). Γιά παράδειγμα, ἡ ΣΤ ´ Οἰκουμενική Σύνοδος (ξα´ καν.) κανονίζει μέ ἑξάχρονη ἀποχή ἀπό τή θεία Κοινωνία, ὅσους καταφεύγουν σέ μάντεις, ὅσους “λένε τή μοίρα” καί ὅσους κάνουν γητέματα. ῎Αν ἐπιμείνουν στά πονηρά τους ἔργα, τούς χωρίζει τελείως ἀπό τήν ᾿Εκκλησία.

῾Η τοπική Σύνοδος τῆς ᾿Αγκύρας (κδ´ καν.) κανονίζει μέ πέντε χρόνια στέρηση τῆς θείας Κοινωνίας, ὅσους φέρνουν μάγους στά σπίτια τους, γιά νά βροῦν τά μάγια πού τούς ἔκαναν ἄλλοι.

῾Ο Μέγας Βασίλειος (ξε´ καν.) βάζει τούς γόητες καί φαρμακούς στήν ἴδια μοίρα μέ τούς φονιάδες, ἐπιτιμώντας τους μέ εἰκοσάχρονη ἀποχή ἀπό τή θεία Κοινωνία.


Πῶς νά φυλάγονται οἱ Χριστιανοί ἀπό τά μαγικά.

Γιά νά φυλάγεσθε ἀπό τά μαγικά καί τήν ἐνέργεια τῶν δαιμόνων, νά ἔχετε ὅλοι - μικροί καί μεγάλοι, ἄνδρες καί γυναῖκες - κρεμασμένο στό λαιμό σας τόν τίμιο Σταυρό. Τρέμουν οἱ δαίμονες τόν τύπο τοῦ Σταυροῦ καί φεύγουν μακριά ὅταν τόν βλέπουν. ῎Αλλωστε, ὅπως ὁμολόγησαν οἱ ἴδιοι στόν ἅγιο ᾿Ιωάννη τόν Βοστρινό, πού εἶχε ἐξουσία κατά τῶν ἀκαθάρτων πνευμάτων, τρία πράγματα φοβοῦνται περισσότερο· τό Σταυρό, τό ἅγιο Βάπτισμα καί τή θεία Κοινωνία.

Νά ἔχετε ἐπίσης στό σπίτι σας, ἀλλά καί μαζί σας, τό ἅγιο Εὐαγγέλιο. Καί φυσικά νά τό μελετᾶτε. Σ᾿ ὅποιο σπίτι ὑπάρχει Εὐαγγέλιο δέν μπαίνει ὁ διάβολος.

Τά ἀνδρόγυνα, γιά νά μή φοβοῦνται τό “δέσιμο”, πρίν παντρευτοῦν πρέπει νά ἐξομολογοῦνται, νά νηστεύουν τρεῖς ἡμέρες, νά συνδυάζουν τό μυστήριο τοῦ γάμου μέ τήν τέλεση θείας Λειτουργίας καί νά μεταλαμβάνουν ἔτσι τά ἄχραντα Μυστήρια. Προπαντός τά ἀνδρόγυνα νά ἔχουν πίστη στερεή καί ἀκλόνητη στόν Κύριο, κι Αὐτός θά διαλύσει τίς ἐνέργειες τῶν δαιμόνων.

῎Αν, γιά τήν ὀλιγοπιστία μερικῶν Χριστιανῶν, οἱ δαίμονες παρουσιάζουν διάφορα φαντάσματα, εἴτε σέ τάφους εἴτε σέ σπίτια εἴτε ἀλλοῦ, νά καλεῖται ἱερέας, νά γίνεται ἁγιασμός καί νά ραντίζεται ὁ τόπος. ῎Ετσι, μέ τή θεία χάρη, διαλύεται κάθε δαιμονική ἐνέργεια.

Τέλος, ὅταν ἕνας Χριστιανός πρόκειται νά χτίσει σπίτι ἤ νά κατασκευάσει καΐκι κ.τ.ὅ., ἄς προσκαλεῖ ἕναν ἱερέα νά τοῦ κάνει ἁγιασμό καί νά διαβάσει τήν κατάλληλη γιά τήν περίσταση εὐχή τῆς ᾿Εκκλησίας μας.


᾿Επίλογος

Οἱ μάγοι, οἱ μάγισσες καί ὅσοι καταφεύγουν σ᾿ αὐτούς δέν ἔχουν θέση στήν βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν. Χάνουν τόν παράδεισο. Καί ποῦ στέλνονται; ᾿Αλλοίμονο! Στήν αἰώνια κόλαση μαζί μέ τούς ἄπιστους, τούς ἀσεβεῖς καί τούς εἰδωλολάτρες (᾿Αποκ. 21:8). Νά πῶ καί κάτι φοβερότερο; Θά κολάζονται χειρότερα κι ἀπό τούς εἰδωλολάτρες. Γιατί αὐτοί, ἔτσι γεννήθηκαν στήν ἀσέβεια, ἔτσι καί πέθαναν. Δέν βαπτίσθηκαν στό ὄνομα τῆς ἁγίας Τριάδος. Δέν πίστεψαν στό Χριστό. Οἱ Χριστιανοί ὅμως, οἱ βαπτισμένοι, πού ἔγιναν παιδιά τοῦ Θεοῦ “κατά χάριν”, πού τράφηκαν μέ τό Σῶμα καί τό Αἷμα τοῦ Κυρίου, πῶς τόλμησαν κατόπιν καί τά καταφρόνησαν καί τ᾿ ἀρνήθηκαν καί καταπιάστηκαν μέ τά μαγικά;

Γιά τήν ἀγάπη τοῦ Χριστοῦ, λοιπόν, καί γιά τήν σωτηρία τῆς ψυχῆς σας, φυλαχθεῖτε, ἀδελφοί μου, φυλαχθεῖτε ἀπό τή μαγεία. Καί πάλι σᾶς λέω, φυλαχθεῖτε! Μήν πηγαίνετε σέ μάγους καί μάγισσες. Σ᾿ ὅλες τίς περιστάσεις καί γιά ὅλες σας τίς ἀνάγκες νά προστρέχετε στήν βοήθεια τοῦ Θεοῦ, στήν προστασία τῆς Θεοτόκου καί στίς πρεσβεῖες τῶν ἁγίων. ῎Ετσι καί ἀπό τίς ἀσθένειες καί τίς ἀνάγκες σας θά ἐλευθερωθεῖτε, καί ἀπό τήν αἰώνια κόλαση θά λυτρωθεῖτε, καί τήν οὐράνια βασιλεία θά κληρονομήσετε, “ἧς γένοιτο ἀξιωθῆναι πάντας ἡμᾶς χάριτι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. ᾿Αμήν”.


Ἅγιος Νικόδημος ὁ Ἁγιορείτης

Friday, September 25, 2015

How Everyone Should Prepare Before Confession An Excerpt from Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession) - St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite



What is repentance?


My brother sinner, this is the preparation you must undergo before you repent and go to confession. Know firstly that repentance, according to St. John of Damaskos, is a returning from the devil to God, which comes about through pain and ascesis. So you also, my beloved, if you wish to repent properly, must depart from the devil and from diabolical works and return to God and to the life proper to God. You must forsake sin, which is against nature, and return to virtue, which is according to nature. You must hate wickedness so much, that you say along with David: "Unrighteousness have I hated and abhorred" (Ps. 118:163), and instead, you must love the good and the commandments of the Lord so much, that you also say along with David: "But Thy law have I loved" (ibid.), and again: "Therefore have I loved Thy commandments more than gold and topaz" (Ps. 118:127). In brief, the Holy Spirit informs you through the wise Sirach what in fact true repentance is, saying: "Turn to the Lord and forsake your sins… Return to the Most High, and turn away from iniquity, and hate abominations intensely" (Sir. 17:25-26).

The aspects of repentance
Know secondly that the aspects of repentance are three: contrition, confession, and satisfaction.
 

Contrition
Contrition is sorrow and perfect grief of the heart, which comes about in a person who, on account of the sins committed, disappointed God and transgressed His divine Law. This contrition comes only to the perfect and those who are sons of God, because it only proceeds from the love for God, just as a son repents simply because he disappointed his father, and not because he was deprived of his inheritance or because he will be ousted from his father's house.
Concerning this the divine Chrysostom says: "Groan after you have sinned, not because you are
to be punished (for this is nothing), but because you have offended your Master, one so gentle,
one so kind, one Who loves you so much and longs for your salvation as to have given even His
 "Repentance is the returning from that which is against nature to that which is according to nature, from the devil to God, through ascesis and agony" (De Fide Orthodoxa 2, 30, PG 94, 976A).
Concerning true repentance, see the Homily on Repentance at the end of this book.
 George Koressios, writing about the Mysteries, adds a fourth aspect of repentance, the loosing of sin (also called "keys"), which happens by the grace of the Holy Spirit through the mediation of the Spiritual Father, and which, he says, especially defines the Mystery of Repentance (from his Theology).
 This grief does not only consist of its sensible manifestations, like groans and tears, but it mainly consists of the interior will of man hating sin and in wishing that sin never occurred, and the resolve to never commit sin again.
And note this also, that this grief and contrition of the heart, according to Koressios, is an element of repentance and, as long as it is found in the heart, a person is in the state of repentance. But as soon as grief leaves the heart, so also does a person leave from the state of repentance, which means that grief and contrition must be present in the heart of the penitent perpetually, for in this way is his repentance true. Concerning this grief, see more on it in the Homily on Repentance at the end of this book. Son for you. On account of this, groan."


Affliction
Related to contrition is affliction, which is also a sorrow and imperfect grief of the heart, which
comes about, not because a person disappointed God by his sins, but because that person was
deprived of divine grace, lost Paradise, and gained hell. This affliction belongs to the imperfect,
that is, to the hired hands and slaves, because it proceeds not out of love for God, but out of fear
and out of love for themselves, just as a hired hand repents on account of losing his wage and a
slave repents because he fears the disciplines of his master.So you also, my brother sinner, if you wish to acquire this contrition and affliction in your heart, and through these for your repentance to be pleasing to God, you must do the following.
Confess to an Experienced Spiritual Father
First, search around and learn who is the most experienced Spiritual Father, because Basil the
Great says, just as people do not show their maladies and bodily wounds to just any physician,
but to experienced physicians who know how to treat them, so also sins must be revealed, not to
just anyone, but to those who are able to heal them: "The same fashion should be observed in the confession of sins as in the showing of bodily diseases. As then men reveal the diseases of the
body not to all or to chance comers but to those who are experienced in their treatment; so also
the confession of sins ought to take place in the presence of those who are able to treat them, as it
is written: 'Ye that are strong bear the infirmities of the weak' (Rom. 15:1) - that is, take them
away by your care." 


How One is to Examine his conscience
Second, just as you would sit down and count your money after a certain business transaction, in
like manner go to a particular place, my brother, and two or three weeks before going to the
Spiritual Father you found, especially at the beginning of the four fast periods of the year, sit
down in that place of quietude, and bowing your head, examine your conscience, which Philo the
Jew calls: "The testing of the conscience," and become: "Not a defender, but a judge of your
sins," according to the divine Augustine. Consider, like Hezekiah, the whole span of your life in
sorrow and bitterness of soul: "I will ponder all my years in the bitterness of my soul" (Is. 38:15).
 

 On II Corinthians, Homily 4, 6, PG 61, 426.
 Some teachers divide the sorrow and the grief which a sinner has on account of his sins into three parts: thegrief he has before confession, which they call infliction, or reproach (pros-tribe); the grief he has during confession, which they call contrition (syn-tribe); and the grief which he has after confession, which they call affliction (epitribe).

My Christian brethren, do not wait until the last moment to confess and go to your Spiritual Father when the days you wish to commune are very near, but go many days in advance. And certainly during the four fast periods of the year, as soon as they begin, go to confession with leisure and when you have time, so you may be properly corrected. One or two days before you are to commune, go to your Spiritual Father so that he may read a prayer of forgiveness over you on account of the pardonable sins which you committed between the time of your confession and your reception of Communion, and so receive in this manner, according to this good custom which is followed
by the monks of the Holy Mountain.
Consider also how many sins you committed in deed, word, and by coupling with thoughts,after you last confessed, counting the months, weeks, and days. Remember the people with whom you sinned and the places where you sinned, and diligently reflect upon these things in order to find every one of your sins. This is how the wise Sirach counsels you from one side saying: "Before judgment, examine yourself" (Sir. 18:20), and from the other, Gregory the Theologian says: "Examine yourself more than your neighbor. Account of actions is superior to an account of money. For money is subject to corruption, but actions remain."And just as hunters are not satisfied with merely finding a beast in the forest, but attempt through every means to also kill it, likewise, my brother sinner, you should also not be satisfied with merely examining your conscience and with finding your sins, for this profits you little, but struggle by every means to kill your sins through the grief in your heart, namely, through
contrition and affliction. And in order to acquire contrition, consider how much you have
wronged God through your sins. In order to also acquire affliction, consider how much you have
wronged yourself through your sins.
 


From Part III, Chapter 1 of Exomologetarion (A Manual of Confession), by St. Nikodemos the
Hagiorite (Thessaloniki, Greece: 2006, Uncut Mountain Press).

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Considering birthdays to be of secondary or minor importance.



When a child is Baptized into the Orthodox Church, he is linked to the Church’s spiritual powers, including the intercessory power of the Saint—as one united to Christ—after whom he is named. Throughout his life, the intercession, comfort, and protection of this Saint, as part of the Grace flowing from Christ, is available to him. It is for this reason, indeed, that we Orthodox celebrate, considering birthdays to be of secondary or minor importance.


When adults are Baptized into the Orthodox Church, they must take the name of an Orthodox Saint, if their previous name was not Orthodox. They must also use this name at all times. Otherwise, they will have broken the very bond of Baptism, which includes the establishment of a close and real relationship between the Christian and the Saint to whom he is spiritually joined in that Baptism. In the unthinkable, but all too frequent, case of modernists who Baptize or Chrismate converts and fail to give them Orthodox names, these converts should go to a sober, traditionalist Priest and ask that an Orthodox name be assigned, also asking that this be done in conjunction with a service of supplication to the Saint whose name they are taking. That name should subsequently be used at all times, without exception—among friends, at school, at work, etc. It can be added to a convert’s former name on a driver’s license and other forms of identification, since the law allows the addition of such a religious name, as long as it is not for the purpose of fraud or misrepresentation.

Needless to say, then, the idea of “Church names,” taken from the Latin practice of having confirmation names, is unacceptable to Orthodox and constitutes a perversion of the Church’s teaching. It involves a denial of spiritual consolation which is dangerous and which will have consequences for the believer that will be understood only fully at the Day of Judgment. Those who persist in ignoring Church tradition in this matter are simply playing with disbelief, blasphemy, and their souls.

Τέσσερις φοιτητές, ἕνας ἅγιος καί μιά συνομιλία ( Άγιος Ιουστίνος Πόποβιτς )




 Πριν μερικά χρόνια είχε δημοσιευθεί από το Μ. Μελινό ένα βιβλίο πού έφερε τον τίτλο «Μίλησα με τον Άγιο Νεκτάριο». Σ' αυτό παρουσιάζονταν πρόσωπα πού γνώρισαν τον Άγιο προσωπικά. Ο γράφων καίτοι ανάξιος εν παντί και ανεπρόκοπος πνευματικά μπορεί να καυχηθεί εν Κυρίω ότι μαζί με τρεις άλλους φοιτητές συνάντησε στη μονή του Τσέλιε τον Άγιο Ιουστίνο. Μια συνάντηση πού τη θεωρεί σαν την σπουδαιότερη της ζωής του. Εδώ καταθέτει την εμπειρία του από τη συνάντησή του με τον Άγιο, όπως την κατέγραψε τρία χρόνια μετά.

«Είχα εντυπωσιασθεί διαβάζοντας το περίφημο βιβλίο του «Άνθρωπος και θεάνθρωπος». Είχα ακόμα συναντήσει ορισμένα πνευματικό- παίδια του στην Αθήνα, και είχα αντιληφτεί εν ολίγους ότι δεν ήταν τυχαίο πρόσωπο, ένας διανοούμενος πού κάθεται στο γραφείο του και αραδιάζει βαθυστόχαστες σκέψεις για να εντυπωσιάσει και να καταπλήξει τους αναγνώστες του. Ο γέροντας Ιουστίνος είχε σ' όλη του την ζωή «την πράξιν εις θεωρίας επίβασιν».

Αυτά είχα ύπ' όψιν μου όταν ένας φίλος, ο Παναγιώτης, μου πρότεινε να επιχειρήσουμε μια επίσκεψη στον γέροντα Ιουστίνο.
Λέγω να επιχειρήσουμε διότι μια επίσκεψη σ' αυτόν δεν ήτο καθόλου εύκολο εγχείρημα. Διέμενε σ' ένα μικρό μοναστήρι, το Τσέλιε, κοντά στην πόλη Βάλιεβο της κεντρικής Σερβίας και δεν δεχόταν επισκέπτες εκτός ανάξιος έρχονταν συστημένοι από το Βελιγράδι. Οι αρχές, πού τον είχαν περιορίσει εκεί από το 1946, δεν ήθελαν να δέχεται επισκέψεις και απέφευγε όσο μπορούσε να δίνει προσχήματα.

Αφού κανονίσαμε τις λεπτομέρειες τού ταξιδιού, ξεκινήσαμε από την Αθήνα στις 8 Φεβρουαρίου τού 1977 σιδηροδρομικώς. Την επομένη βρεθήκαμε στην Γιουγκοσλαβία. Ταξιδεύαμε ώρες ατέλειωτες με το τραίνο. Κάποτε στην πόλη Νύσσα (Νύς) μπήκε στο κουπέ μας ένας ηλικιωμένος Σέρβος μαζί με ένα ξανθό νεαρό. Η συζήτηση ξεκίνησε με το Μέγα Κωνσταντίνο, πού γεννήθηκε ως γνωστόν στη Νύσσα.


Όταν τού είπαμε ότι είμαστε ορθόδοξοι, ο γέρος μας άνοιξε την καρδιά του. «Γιέτνα βέρα, μια πίστη είμαστε, τίποτα δεν μας χωρίζει». Πράγματι όταν υπάρχει η πίστη στον Χριστό, όπως αναφέρει ο ιερός Χρυσόστομος, καμιά διάκριση είτε γλωσσική είτε εθνική δεν μπορεί να χωρίσει τους ανθρώπους.


Είχε νυχτώσει για καλά όταν φτάσαμε στο Βελιγράδι. Αφού ανακαλύψαμε μετά από περιπετειώδη αναζήτηση κάποιο γνωστό μου φοιτητή, τον Πέταρ Νοβάκοβιτς, ήρθαμε μέσω του σ' επαφή με τον ιερομόναχο Αθανάσιο Γιέβτιτς (νυν επίσκοπο πρώην Ερζεγοβίνης) που γνώριζε τον γέροντα Ιουστίνο σχετικά με το ταξίδι μας στο Τσέλιε. Την επομένη το πρωί ξεκινήσαμε με λεωφορείο για το Βάλιεβο. Μαζί μας ήταν ο Πέταρ και ένας Ρουμάνος μεταπτυχιακός φοιτητής του πανεπιστημίου Αθηνών, ο Ίαν, πού τον βρήκαμε στο Βελιγράδι. Φτάσαμε στο Βάλιεβο το μεσημέρι κι αλλάξαμε λεωφορείο. Δεν πήραμε ταξί, διότι οι οδηγοί ήταν, όπως μας είπαν, άνθρωποι της αστυνομίας και ζητούσαν διαβατήρια από τους ξένους και γενικά δυσκόλευαν αυτόν πού ήθελε να συναντήσει το Γέροντα. Μια ώρα αργότερα νάμαστε στο Τσιέλιε. Ήταν ένα μικρό μοναστήρι στο βάθος μιας κοιλάδας σκεπασμένης από δάση με οξιές. Βιαστήκαμε να κατηφορίσουμε την πλαγιά. Η ξύλινη πύλη του μοναστηριού ήταν λίγο αργότερα μπροστά μας. Ησυχία απόλυτη βασίλευε. Μια μοναχή έτρεξε να μάς αναγγείλει στην ηγουμένη. Σε λίγο εμφανίστηκε η σεβάσμια ηγουμένη Γλυκερία. Ο Σέρβος συνοδός μας τής ανάφερε το σκοπό πού μάς έφερε μέχρις εκεί και από ποιες χώρες ήμασταν. Απαντώντας η ηγουμένη μάς πληροφόρησε ότι ο Γέροντας δεν αισθανόταν και τόσο καλά, διότι το βράδυ είχε σκοντάψει και κτύπησε στη μύτη με αποτέλεσμα να υποστεί ρινορραγία. Αυτό μας έκαμε να μελαγχολήσουμε απότομα. Όμως η ηγουμένη συνέχισε: Καθίστε εδώ στο κιόσκι μέχρι να δούμε τί μπορεί να γίνει. Πήραμε από μια καρέκλα και καθίσαμε στο ξύλινο κιόσκι. Η ηγουμένη μάς έφερε σε λίγο την ευχάριστη είδηση ότι ο Γέροντας θα μας δεχόταν. Μόνο πού έπρεπε να περιμένουμε λίγο. Πήγε η καρδιά μας στο τόπο της. Ο αρχιμανδρίτης Ιουστίνος, με την διάκριση πού τον χαρακτήριζε, δεν ήθελε να μάς στείλει πίσω χωρίς την ευλογία του. Περπατήσαμε προς την παλιά εκκλησία του μοναστηριού συζητώντας. Προηγουμένως η μοναχική φιλοξενία μάς παρέθεσε ένα πλούσιο τραπέζι.

Ήταν τρεις το απόγευμα όταν ο Γέροντας μάς δέκτηκε στο γραφείο του. Ανεβήκαμε μια σκάλα και βρεθήκαμε σ' ένα ευρύχωρο δωμάτιο στον πρώτο όροφο. Οι τοίχοι κατάφορτοι από βιβλία. Μια εικόνα του Αγίου Ιουστίνου του φιλόσοφου και μάρτυρα. Ένα γραφείο γεμάτο βιβλία, άλλα ανοικτά και άλλα κλειστά, σημάδι πώς ο Γέροντας παρά την αρρώστια του «ως άρτι» εργαζόταν, και ένας μειλίχιος Γέροντας με χιονισμένα γένια και μαύρο ράσο μάς υποδέχθηκε με παιδική απλότητα. Αφού μας ευλόγησε ένα, ένα, μάς έβαλε να καθίσουμε γύρω από το γραφείο. Ένα πρόσωπο γαλήνιο πού αντικαθρέφτιζε την ειρήνη τής ψυχής του, χωρίς κανένα ίχνος αλαζονείας. Το ύφος εκείνο το ψυχρό και σπουδαίο πού έχουν οι μορφωμένοι και οι ακαδημαϊκοί απουσίαζε εντελώς. Ό αρχιμανδρίτης Ιουστίνος είχε υποστεί την «καλήν άλλοίωσιν» και ούτε ο τίτλος του καθηγητή του Πανεπιστημίου, ούτε η μεγάλη φήμη πού είχε στους διεθνείς θεολογικούς κύκλους ήταν ικανοί να τον συγκινήσουν και να τον κινήσουν σε έπαρση.

Του μιλήσαμε για την Κύπρο και η λύπη, μια λύπη αληθινή και όχι επίπλαστη, ζωγραφίστηκε στη σεβάσμια μορφή του. Ο Ιαν άρχισε βροχή τις ερωτήσεις. Για τον οικουμενισμό, για τον μοναχισμό και για πολλά άλλα.Ο Γέροντας τον άφησε να μιλάει χωρίς να τον διακόπτει. Όταν τελείωσε, άρχισε ν' άπαντάει στα ερωτήματά του. Φτάνοντας στο θέμα του μοναχισμού, τόνισε ότι η Ελλάδα βρίσκεται σε πλεονεκτική θέση, διότι έχει το Αγιον Όρος. - Εμείς εδώ στη Σερβία δεν έχουμε κάτι τέτοιο, ανέφερε ενδεικτικά.

Ο χρόνος κυλούσε γοργά κι όμως όλοι ήμασταν προσηλωμένοι στις διδαχές του και ακούγαμε, ακούγαμε. Σε μια στιγμή η συζήτηση περιστράφηκε γύρω από τον μακαριστό αρχιμανδρίτης Έπιφάνιο Θεοδωρόπουλο. Και η γνώμη του Γέροντος Ιουστίνου πού δεν περίμενε καν το μεταφραστή τον Πέταρ να μεταφράσει, απευθείας στα ελληνικά: - Ήκουσα περί τούτου. Είναι σπουδαίος. Συνεχίζοντας ο Γέροντας μας ανάφερε ότι ασχολείται συστηματικά με το κατά Ματθαίον ευαγγέλιο και ότι ετοιμάζει μια ερμηνεία σ' αυτό.

Ξαφνικά ένας απρόσμενος θόρυβος μάς ανάγκασε να γυρίσουμε προς τη μεριά της πόρτας. Η ηγουμένη μάς υπενθύμισε ευγενικά ότι μιλούσαμε περισσότερο από μια ώρα και έπρεπε ν' αφήσουμε τον Γέροντα ν' αναπαυτεί λίγο. Σηκωθήκαμε απρόθυμα. Ο Γέροντας στάθηκε όρθιος, μάς ευλόγησε και δίνοντάς μας από δύο βιβλία του σαν ευλογία μάς κατευόδωσε μέχρι την πόρτα.

Όπως μάς πληροφόρησε μια πολύ αξιόπιστη πηγή στο Βελιγράδι, ο πατήρ Ιουστίνος μέχρι και θαύματα έκανε με την προσευχή του. Τόση παρρησία είχε μπροστά στο Θεό. Όμως αισθάνομαι ότι είναι πολύ φτωχά τα λόγια μου, για να περιγράψω αντάξια το γεροπλάτανο της σερβικής ορθοδοξίας, πού κάτω από' τα κλωνάρια του μεγάλωσαν ως «νεόφυτα ελαίων» πλήθος πνευματικά παιδιά.

Ο Γέροντας αναχώρησε από το μάταιο τούτο κόσμο πέρσι τον Απρίλη. Κοντά στο θρόνο του Θεανθρώπου δέεται «συν πάσι τοις αγίοις» για την χειμαζόμενη Εκκλησία, για την μαρτυρική χώρα των Σέρβων, για όλους εμάς».

Αυτά έγραφα τότε, στα 1980, μετά από παράκληση του Παναγιώτη και δημοσιεύθηκαν στο περιοδικό «Οικοδομή» της Αγγλικής Σχολής Λευκωσίας.

Σήμερα, αναλογιζόμενος την ευλογία πού δέχθηκα από τον Άγιο, τον ικετεύω εκτενώς ως έχοντα παρρησία να παρακαλεί τον Κύριον τής δόξης και για μένα ίσως και ανοίξουν τα μάτια τής ψυχής μου και αισθανθώ έστω και τώρα την μετάνοια, τώρα πού τα μάτια μου τα σωματικά είναι ακόμα ανοικτά...


Άγιος Ιουστίνος Πόποβιτς

http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2014/09/blog-post_19.html

ΣΥΜΕΩΝ ΠΗΓΑΔΟΥΛΙΩΤΗΣ
ΒΙΒΛ. ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΗ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΙΑ ΤΕΥΧΟΣ 93

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Η Πίστη της γιαγιάς




The door of penitence is always open ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )



Why do we judge our neighbors? Because we are not trying to get to know ourselves. Someone busy trying to understand himself has no time to notice the shortcomings of others. Judge yourself — and you will stop judging others. Judge a poor deed, but do not judge the doer. It is necessary to consider yourself the most sinful of all, and to forgive your neighbor every poor deed. One must hate only the devil, who tempted him. It can happen that someone might appear to be doing something bad to us, but in reality, because of the doer's good intentions, it is a good deed. Besides, the door of penitence is always open, and it is not known who will enter it sooner — you, "the judge," or the one judged by you.

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Κάντε το Σταυρό σας για να είστε υγιείς λένε οι επιστήμονες. Σοκαρισμένοι οι Άθεοι!


Οι θαυματουργικές ιδιότητες του Σταυρού

Το σημείο του Σταυρού και της ορθόδοξης χριστιανικής προσευχής είναι ικανά να σκοτώσουν μικρόβια, και να μεταβάλουν τις οπτικές ιδιότητες του νερού. Επιστήμονες έχουν αποδείξει πειραματικά τις θαυματουργικές ιδιότητες του σημείου του Σταυρού και της προσευχής.

Είναι διαπιστωμένο, το έχουμε ξαναπεί πολλές φορές εδώ στο pentapostagma.gr ότι η παλιά συνήθεια να γίνεται το σημείο του Σταυρού πάνω από το φαγητό και το ποτό πριν το γεύμα, έχει ένα προφανές μυστικό και αληθινό νόημα και αυτό δεν είναι άλλο από το μαρτύριο του Κυρίου μας Ιησού Χριστού. Πάνω στο Σταυρό έχυσε το Πανάγιο αίμα Του και με το μαρτύριο του μας έσωσε από την αιώνια καταδίκη. Πίσω από αυτό παραμένει η πρακτική χρησιμότητα με την οποία ασχολείται η επιστήμη.

Η τροφή κυριολεκτικά καθαρίζεται μέσα σε μία στιγμή. Αυτό είναι ένα μεγάλο θαύμα, που κυριολεκτικά συμβαίνει κάθε ημέρα” δήλωσε η φυσικός Angelina Malakhvskaya που προσκλήθηκε από την εφημερίδα Жизнь.

Η Malakhovskaya έχει μελετήσει την δύναμη του σημείου του Σταυρού με την ευλογία της Εκκλησίας, για 10 περίπου χρόνια τώρα. Έχει διεξάγει ένα μεγάλο αριθμό πειραμάτων που έχει επανειλημμένα επαληθευτεί, πριν τα αποτελέσματά τους έρθουν στην δημοσιότητα.

Ειδικότερα, έχει ανακαλύψει τις απαράμιλλες βακτηριοκτόνες ιδιότητες του νερού μετά την ευλογία του από μία ορθόδοξη προσευχή και το σημείο του Σταυρού. Η μελέτη επίσης αποκάλυψε μία νέα, ενωρίτερα άγνωστη ιδιότητα του λόγου του Θεού, να μετασχηματίζει την δομή του ύδατος, αυξάνοντας αξιοσημείωτα την οπτική του πυκνότητα στην περιοχή του φάσματος της βραχείας υπεριώδους ακτινοβολίας, γράφει η εφημερίδα.

Οι επιστήμονες έχουν επαληθεύσει την δύναμη της δράσης της Κυριακής προσευχής (Πάτερ ημών) και του ορθοδόξου σημείου του Σταυρού στα παθογενή βακτήρια. Δείγματα νερού από διάφορες δεξαμενές (πηγάδια, ποταμούς, λίμνες) πάρθηκαν για έρευνα. Όλα τα δείγματα είχαν goldish staphylococus, ένα κολοβακτηρίδιο. Αποδείχθηκε εν τούτοις, ότι αν η Κυριακή προσευχή λεχθεί και το σημείο του Σταυρού γίνει επάνω τους, ο αριθμός των βλαβερών βακτηριδίων θα μειωθεί επτά, δέκα, εκατό, ακόμη και πάνω από χίλιες φορές.

Τα πειράματα έγιναν με τέτοιο τρόπο, ώστε να αποκλείουν και την ελάχιστη πιθανή νοητική επιρροή. Η προσευχή ειπώθηκε και από πιστούς και από απίστους, αλλά ο αριθμός των παθογόνων βακτηρίων σε διαφορετικό περιβάλλον με διαφορετικές ομάδες βακτηρίων ακόμη και τότε μειώθηκε, συγκρινόμενος με τα πρότυπα αναφοράς.

Οι επιστήμονες απέδειξαν επίσης την ευεργετική επίδραση που η προσευχή και το σημείο του Σταυρού έχουν πάνω στους ανθρώπους. Όλοι οι συμμετέχοντες στα πειράματα είχαν την πίεση του αίματός τους να τείνει να σταθεροποιηθεί, και τους αιματικούς δείκτες βελτιωμένους. Κατά τρόπο εντυπωσιακό, οι δείκτες άλλαζαν προς την ίαση που χρειαζόταν. Στους υποτασικούς η αιματική τους πίεση ανέβηκε, ενώ στους υπερτασικούς κατέβηκε.

Επίσης παρατηρήθηκε ότι το σημείο του Σταυρού εάν γίνεται πρόχειρα, με τα τρία δάκτυλα βαλμένα μαζί απρόσεκτα η τοποθετούμενα εκτός των απαραιτήτων σημείων (στο μέσο του κούτελου, το κέντρο του ηλιακού πλέγματος, και στα κυκλώματα κάτω από το δεξί και αριστερό ώμο), το θετικό αποτέλεσμα ήταν πολύ πιο αδύνατο, η απουσίαζε εντελώς.

Έτσι γίνεται κατανοητό το αναλλοίωτο του αγιασμού, το ανέβασμα του ζυμαριού από τα σταυρολούλουδα. (λουλούδια του Επιταφίου), η διατήρηση φρέσκου του Πασχαλιάτικου αυγού μέχρι τον επόμενο χρόνο, όταν τοποθετείται στο εικονοστάσι. Η έρευνα επιβεβαιώνει τις θέσεις της αληθινής Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας.



http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2014/10/blog-post_16.html

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

'' I don't like to prophecize '' ( Saint Porphyrios )


At a time when more and more people feel the need, because of the profound crisis affecting mankind, to deal with eschatological events as described in the Apocalypse of Saint John the Theologian, as well as those things revealed by the Grace of God to the Prophets, the Fathers of the Church and contemporary saintly elders like Elder Paisios, we must especially stand with the view of Elder Porphyrios, and decode why such a great Saint of our time, while knowing with precision and detail everything that we are living and where things come from, avoided talking about these things.

It must especially puzzle us why the Elder didn't speak at all about what is coming, but only revealed what was necessarily required for certain people.

The core thought of Elder Porphyrios was that people need to consolidate and grow in love towards their Creator, not through fear of things to come, but through a selfless relationship, as an affectionate father towards his child.

Because the unity that was the greatest legacy of Christ to His Apostles, can be ensured when the child is joined with his Father primarily through love and not fear.

Elder Porphyrios aptly likened the times we live in to the years just before Jesus came.

What existed then? A Roman "peace" in power and idolatry, and a priesthood alienated by the passion for power that was hypocritical without being beneficial, but rather distanced the people from God. And finally there was a small portion of pure and good people.

All this describes in detail what is going on today, and the repetition of this in our era should probably strongly trouble us.

Before Christ there existed prophecies about His coming as well as warnings for repentance to the people of God, as in the case of Jonah and Ninevah.

However, these prophecies were sent by God for those few good and pure people of each era, as I said before, because they had the goodwill to receive the messages and know what to do.

Elder Porphyrios acted with this in mind, calling people to approach Christ with love and not the fear of terrible events.

He knew but he did not say. He spoke laconically and in codes, understanding that in our era there was a great gap between the spirituality of people on Mount Athos with the outside world.

For this reason he sent a man to notify Elder Paisios to stop speaking about the Antichrist, the mark, imminent wars, etc.

Not because it was wrong that which was informed to Elder Paisios through Divine Illumination, but because the spiritual measure of the world is at such a level that fear has no practical effect and that the only approach needed was love for Christ.

For if man loved God, then God, when people change, will change history. The same happened with the imminent destruction of Ninevah.

The same Elder Porphyrios, during his last days, stressed the moral degradation and misery which we find ourselves in as people, and stressed to his spiritual children to find a verse in the Old Testament that says "You have a cloak, you be our leader" (Is. 3:6).

There we were told describes clearly the current situation. The same situations of "old Israel" with the "new Israel" and the same symptoms.

The "old Israel" lost its unity with God and the "new Israel" lost exactly this path of unity with Christ.

This was the great longing of the Elder and he served it literally till his last breath.

The Hierarchical Prayer of Christ, "that all may be one", was what the Elder served as long as he lived and he slept with it on his lips. Because he knew that when mankind is ensured with unity with Christ, then they will fear neither wars nor the Antichrist.

In contrast, today we approach evil and examine those things that are coming as an inevitable evil. Here we lose the entire essence.

Wars, calamities and upcoming events are the ultimate remedy to human apostasy, which is why Elder Porphyrios would say: "The Apocalypse was written for it not to happen".

The Apocalypse has as its purpose to alert, and the way to avoid it is to serve the unity which Christ left to us as a legacy.

This is the therapeutical treatment to the sick, because if the sickness progresses, the events of the Apocalypse will be the amputation caused by the physician when gangrene sets.

The Elder would say: "Our time is like the time of Christ. Then the world had reached a terrible state. But God spared us. And now we must not despair. I see through the calamity to appear some very important person of God, who will rally and unite the world for good."

It was one of the few occasions when the Elder spoke about that which we are living and is upcoming. He stressed that the justice of God is changing and that our situation is miserable.

But he saw that the mercy of God will once again visit mankind. Elder Paisios said the same thing when visitors approached him with evident anxiety about upcoming events and when he was asked when the wrath of God will come. He would say: "We need to ask that His mercy comes, not His wrath."

This is what humanity needs and this is how we must approach what the Saints told us. That which was prophesied in our time are for those few who, like before the time of Christ, have the goodwill to serve their unity in Christ.

The tabloids, the foreign press, the electronic media channels deal systematically with what Elder Paisios and other contemporary elders said. I don't know if they do it for the sake of advertising, trade, etc. But we must think. We must think to look for the substance in all this.

In 2009 while visiting Russia, as part of the effort of issuing the letters of the first Ruler of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, we met with senior officials of the Russian Federation. With surprise I heard a question that relates to all of the above.

He asked me:

"Elder George, the fathers of Mount Athos say there will be a war between Russia and Turkey for Constantinople. What do you say about this?"

I answered him without thinking, in a way I believe Elder Porphyrios would answer:

"Saint Kosmas Aitolos, who is a great Saint of Orthodoxy, said: 'They will try to resolve it with the pen, but will not be able to. 99 times with war, and once with the pen.' However, us, we are with the pen," I said.

The Greeks I believe had the blessing to be sent by God a revealing personality like Elder Porphyrios to show us the way and the path to avoid calamities and difficulties.

It is up to us to manage the legacy he left to us, and not wait for the ship to collide with the iceberg.

If each of us acts alone and cut off from Christ, it is certain that we will say that which the Holy Elder said: "He may, however, according to the plan of God, come; to come so that people can acquire an awareness, to see the chaos alive in front of them, and to say: 'Oh, we are falling into chaos, we are being lost. Everyone back, everyone back, turn back, we have been deluded.' And they will return again to the path of God and the Orthodox faith will shine."

The last days of Elder Porphyrios were the most revealing for his spiritual children and for all of humanity. The Elder gathered us in his Cell in Kaufsokalyvia and told us: "I don't like to prophesy, but I will tell you one prophecy."

The Elder told us about what will happen in Greece and what its future will be. It was revealing for the future of Greece. All of these have now begun to be realized. Today we are living all that he told us and began to take place with exactitude.

The greatest revelation of God was the last night of his life, when for a half hour he prayer the Hierarchical Prayer of Jesus: "That all may be one".

The same Holy Spirit prayed within Elder Porphyrios for the unity in Christ of all Christians and for all of humanity, so that the sufferings of the Apocalypse would not come.

This prayer is the greatest legacy of Christ to humanity. May the unity of humanity with God materialize.

This legacy today, 21 years after the repose of Elder Porphyrios, remains alive and is depicted in an icon: the Panagia "That All May Be One" Patriotissa, a prophetic and escatological icon, which all of Christendom knows.

We his children serve today this legacy and hope in it.

Saint Porphyrios

Αν ξύπνησες σήμερα το πρωί με περισσότερη υγεία παρά αρρώστια .......




Αν ξύπνησες σήμερα το πρωί με περισσότερη υγεία παρά αρρώστια, είσαι πιο προνομιούχος από ένα εκατομμύριο ανθρώπους που δεν θα επιζήσουν μέχρι το τέλος της εβδομάδας.

Αν δεν έχεις ζήσει ποτέ τον κίνδυνο της μάχης, την μοναξιά της φυλάκισης, την αγωνία των βασανιστηρίων η την πείνα, είσαι πιο καλά από 500 εκατομύρια ανθρώπους στον κόσμο.

Αν μπορείς να πας στην εκκλησία, δίχως τον φόβο της τιμωρίας, της σύλληψης, των βασανιστηρίων η του θανάτου, είσαι πιο προνομιούχος από τρία δισεκατομύρια ανθρώπους στη γη.

Αν έχεις φαγητό στο ψυγείο σου, αν φοράς ρούχα, αν είσαι κάτω απο μια στέγη και ένα κρεβάτι για να κοιμηθείς, είσαι πιο πλούσιος από το 75% των κατοίκων της γης.

Αν έχεις χρήματα στην τράπεζα, μέσα στο πορτοφόλοι σου, και μπορείς να δώσεις έστω και ψιλά σε κάποιον, είσαι ανάμεσα στο 8% των πιο πλούσιων ανθρώπων της γης.

Αν οι γονείς σου ζουν και είναι ακόμα παντρεμένοι, είσαι πολύ σπάνιος.

Αν μπορείς να κρατήσεις το χέρι κάποιου, να τον αγκαλιάσεις, αλλα ακόμα να τον αγγίξεις στον ώμο, είσαι ευλογημένος επειδή μπορείς να προσφέρεις ένα θεραπευτικό άγγιγμα.

Αν διαβάζεις αυτές τις λέξεις, ήδη έχεις άλλη μια ευλογία επειδή δύο δισεκατομύρια άνθρωποι στον κόσμο δεν μπορούν να διαβάσουν.

Αν σηκώνεις το κεφάλι σου με χαμόγελο και είσαι πραγματικά ευγνώμων, είσαι ευλογημένος, επειδή η πλειονότητα των ανθρώπων μπορεί να το κάνει, αλλά οι περισσότεροι δεν το κάνουν.


http://agapienxristou.blogspot.ca/2013/10/blog-post_9848.html

Monday, September 21, 2015

Οι πονηριές της Τουρκίας ( Αγιος Παϊσιος )


 

Η Τουρκία είναι σαν την αλεπού. Όλο πονηριές κάνει. Όταν καταλάβει ότι έχουν στήσει δόκανα για να την πιάσουν, αρχίζει να πηδάει και με τα τέσσερα πόδια κι έτσι πιάνεται και με τα τέσσερα. Αυτό θα πάθει και η Τουρκία.


Αγιος Παϊσιος

Ο Πόλεμος των δαιμόνων ( Αγιος Παϊσιος )

Ο διάβολος πολεμάει τους πιστούς με τον οικουμενισμό, τούς πλούσιους με τον μασονισμό και τούς πτωχούς με τον κομμουνισμό”, παρετήρησε ο γέρων..

Αγιος Παϊσιος

The Role of a Spiritual Father ( Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh )




The video recording from which this transcript was taken was made almost twenty-nine years ago, on May 18, 1987. In those days, in connection with the millennial of the Baptism of Russia, international conferences were held in the Publishing Department of the Moscow Patriarchate. On that day, Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Surouzh appeared with his famous report, “Spirituality and the Role of a Spiritual Father.” His talk was unforgettable for both its essence and the power of its pastoral word.

The videotape of this film that I made after Metropolitan Pitirim had given me my own wonderful video camera was recently unearthed, and I was filming everything I could get my hands on. I needed experience, and that is how this film came into being. The films were somewhat mediocre, but I am just happy that they were preserved.

How is it that this tape was not lost? If I find the time, I will be looking for other interesting films, and I will definitely put them on our website.

Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov)

* * *




I should first of all ask forgiveness for not having a text for this talk; am hoping in the prayers of some of you here that this talk will turn out well today.

The theme of my talk is spirituality and the role of a spiritual father, or if you prefer, spiritual nourishment, or care of souls.

I would first like to define the word “spirituality”. Usually when we talk of spirituality, we are talking about specific religious expressions of our spiritual life—such as prayer and ascetic struggles (podvigs); this is all clearly expressed in such books as those of St. Theophan the Recluse, for example.

Just the same, it seems to me that in speaking of spirituality, we have to remember that spirituality consists in what the movement of the Holy Spirit works in us, and what we usually call spirituality is the manifestation of this mysterious movement of the Holy Spirit.

This places us in a very specific position with regard to the role of a spiritual father, because we are thus not educating a person according to one or another principle or teaching him how to grow in prayer or asceticism along the lines of a template. The role of a spiritual father does not consist in this, but rather in the fact that regardless of his spiritual level, the spiritual father must pay sharp attention to what the Holy Spirit is bringing to pass in a person and enable this process, protect him from temptations, falls, or wavering in his faith. As a result, the work of a spiritual father may seem on the one hand much less active, but on the other hand much more significant than we often think.

I would like to say a couple of words before going on about how the role of a spiritual father is not an unambiguous concept. There are, as it seems to me, three degrees, or three types of spiritual fathers.

On the one hand, on the very basic level, he is a priest to whom is given the grace of the priesthood, which consists not only in the right, but also the grace-filled power to serve the sacraments—the Eucharist, Baptism, and Chrismation, and also Confession, which is peace-making between man and God.

There is great danger lurking for a young, inexperienced priest, just graduated from seminary full of enthusiasm and hope, who imagines that ordination has given him intelligence, experience, and “discernment of spirits”, and then becomes what in ascetical literature is called a “young elder”. We are talking about young men who have not yet reached spiritual maturity, do not yet possess even the knowledge that comes with basic personal experience, but who think that they have been taught everything needed to help take a repentant sinner by the hand and lead him from earth to heaven.

Unfortunately this happens all too often, in all different countries: a young priest, by virtue of his priesthood—not because he is spiritually experienced, not because God had led him to it—begins to direct his spiritual children and command them: Don’t do this; do that; read this or that spiritual literature; go to church; make prostrations…

As a result, his victims become caricatures of spiritual life, doing everything that the ascetics of piety did. However, the ascetics of piety did all this out of their spiritual experience, and not because they were trained animals. For the spiritual father this is a catastrophe, because he has intruded upon a realm where he has neither the right nor the experience to intrude. I emphasize this because it is an essential matter for a priest.

One becomes an elder only by God’s grace; it is a charismatic phenomenon, a gift. A person cannot learn how to be an elder no more than he can choose to be a genius. We can all dream of becoming geniuses, but we know perfectly well that Beethoven or Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci or Andrei Rublev possessed genius that cannot be learned in any school, not even through long experience, and which is a divine gift of grace.

I am belaboring this point, perhaps for too long, because it seems to me to be an essential theme, here in Russia perhaps even more that in the West, because the role of a priest here is much more central. Often priests who are young, either in years or in spiritual maturity or immaturity, direct their spiritual children instead of cultivating them.

Cultivating them means treating them and working with them as a gardener would with flowers or other plants. He has to know the soil, the nature of the plant, the climactic or other conditions they are set in, and only then can he help. And help is all he can do, because one or another plant can only grow into what it should be by nature.

We should never break a person in order to make him like ourselves. One religious writer in the West said: A spiritual child can only be brought to his own self, and the road in his life can be very long.

If you read the lives of the saints you will see how great elders were able to do this, how they were able to be themselves, but also see in another person his exclusive, inimitable qualities, and to give that person—and another, or a third person—the opportunity to also be himself and not a replica of an elder; or in the worse case, a cookie-cutter repeat.

Take an example from the history of the Russian Church, the meeting of Saints Anthony and Theodosius of the Kiev Caves. Anthony was Theodosius’s spiritual father, but their lives were completely different in the sense that St. Anthony was a recluse while Theodosius was a founder of coenobitic life. One might ask, how could St. Anthony prepare Theodosius to do what he himself would not do, to become a man that he himself did not want to be, to fulfill a divine calling entirely different from his own?

It seems to me that here we can clearly discern the difference between the desire to make a person like ourselves and the desire to make him like unto Christ.

As I have said, eldership is a gift of grace, it is spiritual genius, and therefore none of us can think about behaving the way an elder would.

But there is a middle realm—spiritual fatherhood. Very often, just because both young and not so young priests are called “father”, they imagine that they are not only confessing priests, but true fathers in the sense that the Apostle Paul said of himself in the Epistles: “You have many schoolmasters, but I have given birth to you in Christ.” St. Seraphim of Sarov said the same thing in his time.

Fatherhood consists in a person—and he or she may not even be a priest—giving another person birth to spiritual life. Looking at his spiritual father, that person saw, as the old saying goes, the radiance of eternal life in his eyes, and therefore was able to approach him and ask him to be his instructor and guide.

The second thing that distinguishes a father is that a father is as if of the same blood and spirit as his disciple; and he can guide his disciple because there is not only a spiritual but also a psychological resonance between them. Probably you remember how the Egyptian desert was once filled with ascetics and instructors, but people did not choose their instructors according to signs of his glory. They did not go to the one about whom they had heard the best reports, but rather sought out instructors who they understood, and who understood them.

This is very important, because obedience does not mean blindly doing what someone who has either material-physical or emotional-spiritual authority over us says. Obedience is when a novice has chosen an instructor whom he trusts unconditionally, in whom he finds what he has sought for. He hearkens not only to his every word, but even his to tone of voice, and tries through all of what manifests the elder’s personality and his spiritual experience to re-cultivate himself, to partake of that experience and become a human being who has grown beyond the limits of what he could have done by himself.

Obedience is first and foremost a gift of hearing—not only with the mind, or with the ear, but with one’s whole being, with an open heart; a reverent contemplation of the spiritual mystery of another human being.

On the part of the spiritual father, who has perhaps given you birth or received you already born but became a father to you, there should be a deep reverence for what the Holy Spirit is working within you.

A spiritual father, just as the simple and ordinary, commonplace priest, should be in a condition to see the beauty of God’s image in a person that cannot be taken away. (This condition often takes effort, thoughtfulness, and reverence for the person who comes to him.) Even if a person is marred by sin, the priest should see an icon in him that has been harmed either by conditions in life, from human neglect, or blasphemy. He should see an icon in him and have reverence for what has remained of this icon; and only for the sake of this, for the sake of the divine beauty within that person, he should labor to remove everything that deforms that image of God.

When Fr. Evgraf Kovalevsky was still a layman, he once said to me that when God looks at a human being, He does not see the virtues that he may lack, or the successes he has not attained—He sees the unshakeable, radiant beauty of His own Image.

Thus, if a spiritual father is incapable of seeing this eternal beauty in a person, to see the beginning of the process of fulfilling his call to become a God-man in the image of Christ, then he is not capable of leading him, for people are not built or made. They are only aided in their growth according to the measure of their own calling.

At this juncture, the word “obedience” calls for a bit of an explanation. Usually we talk about obedience as submission, being under authority, and often as a kind of enslavement to a spiritual father or a priest whom we call our spiritual father or elder—not to own our detriment only, but also to his.

Obedience consists in, as I have said, hearing with all the powers of our soul. However, this obligates both the spiritual father and the “listener” equally, because a spiritual father should also be listening with all his experience, all his existence, and all his prayer. I will even go further to say that that he should listen with all the power of the Holy Spirit working in him to what the Holy Spirit is bringing to pass in the person entrusted to his care. He should know how to search out the paths of the Holy Spirit in him, to be in awe before what God is doing, and not bring him up according to his own image or how he thinks he should develop, making him a victim of his spiritual guidance.

This also requires that both have humility. It is easy and expected for a spiritual child to have humility. But what humility a priest or spiritual father must have in order not to intrude upon that sacred realm, to treat a person’s soul in the way that God commanded Moses to treat the ground surrounding the Burning Bush! Every human being—potentially or actually—is that very Bush. Everything surrounding him is sacred ground upon which the spiritual father may step only after removing his shoes, never stepping in any other way than that of the publican who stood in the back of the temple, looking in and knowing that this is the realm of the Living God, that this is a holy place, and he has no right to enter unless God Himself commands him, or as God Himself suggests he proceed or what words to say.

One of the tasks of a spiritual father consists in educating a person in spiritual freedom, in the royal freedom of God’s children. He must not keep him in an infantile state all his life, running to his spiritual father over every trifle, but growing into maturity and learning how to hear what the Holy Spirit is wordlessly speaking to him in his heart.

Humility in Russian means a state of being at peace, when a person has made peace with God’s will; that is, he has given himself over to it boundlessly, fully, and joyfully, and says, “Lord, do with me as Thou wilt!” As a result he has also made peace with all the circumstances of his own life—everything for him is a gift of God, be it good or terrible. God has called us to be His emissaries on earth, and He sends us into places of darkness in order to be a light; into places of hopelessness in order to bring hope; into places where joy has died in order to be a joy; and so on. Our place is not necessarily where it is peaceful—in church, at the Liturgy, where we are shielded by the mutual presence of the faithful—but in those places where we stand alone, as the presence of Christ in the darkness of a disfigured world.

On the other hand, if we think about the Latin roots of the word humility, we see that it comes from the word humus, which indicates fruitful earth. St. Theophan writes about this. Just think about what earth is. It lies there in silence, open, defenseless, vulnerable before the face of the sky. From the sky it receives scorching heat, the sun’s rays, rain, and dew. It also receives what we call fertilizer, that is, manure—everything that we throw into it. And what happens? It brings forth fruit. And the more it bears what we emotionally call humiliation and insult, the more fruit it yields.

Thus, humility means opening up to God perfectly, without any defenses against Him, the action of the Holy Spirit, or the positive image of Christ and His teachings. It means being vulnerable to grace, just as in our sinfulness we are sometimes vulnerable to harm from human hands, from a sharp word, a cruel deed, or mockery. It means giving ourselves over, that it be our own desire that God do with us as He wills. It means accepting everything, opening up; and then giving the Holy Spirit room to win us over.

It seems to me that if a spiritual father would learn humility in this sense—seeing the eternal beauty in a person; if he would know his place, which is nothing other (and this is a place that is so holy, so wondrous) than the place of a friend of the bridegroom, who is appointed to safeguard the meeting of the bride—not his own bride—with the Bridegroom. Then the spiritual father can truly be a travelling companion to his spiritual child, walk with him step by step, protect him, support him, and never intrude upon the realm of the Holy Spirit.

Then the role of the spiritual father becomes a part of that spirituality and that maturing into the sanctity to which each of us is called, and which each spiritual father should help his spiritual children attain.


Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh