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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Perfect love for God... ( St.Seraphim of Sarov )

He who has acquired perfect love for God goes through this life as if he did not exist. For he considers himself a stranger to all that is visible, and awaits with patience that which is unseen. He is completely transformed into love for God and has abandoned all worldly attachments.

He who truly loves God considers himself a wanderer and newcomer on earth, for in him is a striving towards God in soul and mind, which contemplates Him alone.

As for care of the soul, a person in his body is like a lighted candle. The candle must burn out, and a person must die. But as our soul is immortal, so our cares should be directed more toward the soul than the body: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mt. 16:26)" for which, as is known, nothing in the world can serve as ransom? If the soul alone is worth more than all the world and the worldly kingdom, then the Kingdom of Heaven is incomparably more precious. We consider the soul as most precious for the reason stated by Macarius the Great, that God did not desire to bond and unite His spiritual essence with any visible creation except man, whom He loves more than any of His creations.

St.Seraphim of Sarov

Saturday, April 14, 2018

The Cross Preserves the Universe ( St. John Maximovitch )

In the Prophet Ezekiel (9:6), it is said that when the Angel of the Lord was sent to punish and destroy the sinning people, it was told him not to strike those on whom the "mark" had been made. In the original text this mark is called "tau," the Hebrew letter corresponding to the letter "T," which is how in ancient times the cross was made, which then was an instrument of punishment.

So, even then, it was foretold the power of the Cross, which preserves those who venerate it. Likewise, by many other events in the Old Testament the power of the Cross was indicated. Moses, who held his arms raised in the form of a cross during the battle, gave victory to the Israelites over the Amalekites. He also, dividing the Red Sea by a blow of his rod and by a transverse blow uniting the waters again, saved Israel from Pharaoh, who drowned in the water, while Israel crossed over on the dry bottom (Exodus, ch. 14, 17).

Through the laying on of his hands in the form of a cross on his grandsons, Jacob gave a blessing to his descendents, foretelling at the same time their future until the coming of the "expectation of the nations" (Genesis, ch. 48).

By the Cross, the Son of God, having become man and accomplished our salvation. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the Cross (Phil. 2:8). Having stretched out His hands upon the Cross, the Savior with them as it were embraced the world, and by His blood shed on it, like a king with red ink, He signed the forgiveness of the human race.

The Cross of the Lord was the instrument by which He saved the world after the fall into sin. Through the Cross, He descended with His soul into hell, to raise up from it the souls who were awaiting Him. By the Cross Christ opened the doors of paradise which had been closed after our first ancestors had been banished from it. The Cross was sanctified by the Body of Christ which was nailed to it when He gave Himself over to torments and death for the salvation of the world. Then it was filled with life-giving power. By the Cross on Golgotha the prince of this world was cast out (John 12:31) and an end was put to his authority. The weapon by which he was crushed became the sign of Christ's victory.

The demonic hosts tremble when they see the Cross, because the kingdom of hell was destroyed by the Cross. They do not dare to draw near to anyone who is guarded by the Cross.

The whole human race, by the death of Christ on the Cross, received deliverance from the authority of the devil, and everyone who makes use of this saving weapon is inaccessible to the demons.

When legions of demons appeared to St. Anthony the Great and other desert-dwellers, they guarded themselves with the sign of the Cross, and the demons vanished.

When there appeared to St. Symeon the Stylite, who was standing on his pillar, what seemed to be a chariot to carry him to heaven, the Saint, before mounting it, crossed himself and it disappeared. The enemy, who had hoped to cast down the ascetic from the height of his pillar, was put to shame.

One cannot enumerate all the various incidents of the manifestation of the power of the Cross. Invisibly and unceasingly, Divine grace that gushes from it saves the world.

The sign of the Cross is made at all the Mysteries and prayers of the Church. With the making of the sign of the Cross over the bread and wine, they become the Body and Blood of Christ. With the immersion of the Cross the waters are sanctified. The sign of the Cross looses us from sins. "When we are guarded by the Cross, we oppose the enemy, without fearing his nets and barking." Just as the flaming sword in the hands of the Cherubim barred the entrance into paradise of old, so the Cross now acts invisibly in the world, guarding it from perdition.

The Cross is the unconquerable weapon of pious kings in the battle with enemies. Through the apparition of the Cross in the sky, the dominion of Emperor Constantine was confirmed and an end was put to the persecution against the Church. The apparition of the Cross in the sky in Jerusalem in the days of Constantius the Arian proclaimed the victory of Orthodoxy. By the power of the Cross of the Lord, Christian kings will continue to reign until Antichrist, barring his path to power and restraining lawlessness (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on II Thes. 2:6-7).

The "sign of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:30), that is, the Cross, will appear in the sky in order to proclaim the end of the present world and the coming of the eternal Kingdom of the Son of God. Then all the tribes of the earth shall weep, because they loved the present age and its lusts, but all who have endured persecution for righteousness and called on the name of the Lord shall rejoice and be glad. The Cross then will save all who conquered temptations, from eternal perdition by the Cross, who crucified their flesh with its passions and lusts, and took up their cross and followed afar Christ.

However, those who hated the Cross of the Lord and did not engrave the Cross in their soul will perish forever. For "the Cross is the preserver of the whole universe, the Cross is the beauty of the Church, the Cross is the might of kings, the Cross is the confirmation of the faithful, the Cross is the glory of angels and the scourge of demons" (Octoechos: Exapostilarion, Monday Matins).

Shanghai Exaltation of the Cross, 1947

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves... ( St. Nektarios of Aegina )

How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end! In the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. 
Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: "I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people." (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself! 

St. Nektarios of Aegina

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The path of virtue is a path of effort and toil: ( Saint Nektarios of Egina )

The path of virtue is a path of effort and toil: 
"Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it;" whereas the gate of vice is wide and the way spacious, but lead to perdition.


Saint Nektarios of Egina

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

“Man is half love, half struggle” ( Elder Justin Pârvu )



The newly departed servant of Christ,

Elder Justin (Pârvu) of Romania and his Words of Wisdom


Motto: “If we would be willing to descend into our selves to correct a bit this avalanche of wrongdoings, then our prayer will be heard, the world would be more at peace and our life would suit more the Lord’ liking.

We have become increasingly hostile towards each other by our own selfishness, we see no one but our selves… and when we reach this state of no longer caring for those near us, we encounter the greatest fall”.


Man’s freedom is at the measure of his genuine love


Freedom becomes precious only when it is lost. Or at least, this is how we think. All his life man seeks to be free, but does not appreciate the gift of his freedom until it is too late. Freedom is in our body but also in our heart. Freedom is in action but also in the mind and the intellect. Man is free by how genuinely he loves and is attached to the values of the faith.

We are free when we accept God’s plan for our life, and when we strive to achieve it. Being free does not mean lethargy and bliss, but the fulfillment of your human condition.

Freedom does not mean to do what I always wish, as many times by doing what I like I do the will of the devil. Freedom is at the measure of man discernment, and his capacity to choose between good and evil. Man must realize that only in Truth he can live freely and with so much confusion in this world, he should avoid deception. It was what Communists did not understand, that only on the Cross the human soul gains true freedom, that all their methods of torture and psychological pressure to re-educate us, have made more saints than slaves, have sanctified our land by the martyrs blood.

Freedom is hard to understand when one has not lived in those times [of persecution], and our Christians today barely reflect of this past.


The thirst for God and the love for all people

The thirst for God directs us towards the love of our neighbor and vice versa. So great is the power of love that one who reaches a genuine love for all people denying oneself, receives the gift of healing.

This is the true “follower” of Christ! Such man loves with the love of Christ all those fallen, thus partakes in Christ’ mission on earth and save himself.

Man is half love, half struggle

(Excerpt from an interview given by the Elder Justin in 2007)

Q: – Father Justin, from your experience of “burying yourself in man suffering”, what do you think, does man need: to be understood or to be loved?

Elder Justin: – Man needs to be loved. But to love him, you must first understand him. If you see him fallen down, then you must give him your hand. The love of neighbor is one’ measure of the love for God. If you cannot love the one near you, if you do not help him, you cannot say you love God.

The love of neighbor is the first step towards salvation, on this step one must labor until he reaches the greatest love for God.






Q: – During the communist regime, we have been [spiritually] poised by the slogan “new man”. Do you think we ended up with this “new man”?

Elder Justin: – You mean, in a materialistic sense? Maybe how the communists had imagine a man freed from the “bondage” of faith and of the Holy Spirit…! But a new man purified and renewed… not so.

But I want to speak more of the new man reborn in Christ, a man that’s quite rare in our present times. The renewal of man and of the world can happen only through the Resurrection of Christ, in its profound meaning. This is the new man, whom every mother preparing to bring babies into the world, must dream of modeling.

Q: – Einstein once said that “the progress made by man, compared with the development of his character, is enough to terrify …”

Elder Justin: - Yes… for a soul that’s at peace with itself can fit the whole world within; while in the soul that’s bitter, soured and distressed, nothing can enter…

Q: – How do you think man should be?

Elder Justin: - Man is – or should be! – Half love and half sacrifice, struggling to keep love undefiled.

Q: – A great thinker of the last century, Carl Gustav Jung said: “For a young man is almost a sin or at least a risk to be too much preoccupied with himself, while for the elder man, it is a duty and a necessity to commit to a more serious self study.” How do you see this?

Elder Justin: - At the end of this search man must find God. God made man in His own image, and God dwells in everyone. Young or old, man must clean up the inside of his being, for no one knows when the end comes…

Q: – Someone said that “in an empty mind, the devil finds shelter”…

Elder Justin: - He is speaking of the man who has the basket always full, for he cares for the wheat needed to be milled. And this wheat is our constant cry to God: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, save us.” If the enemy finds our mind wandering in useless things, he will enter and find shelter directing it at his pleasure (…)

Q: – Is there a question that man is rendered to never find the answer in this life?

Elder Justin: - It depends on what someone wants to know. Man has all the answers within himself. About his birth, his life and the meaning of his salvation. But if he wants to find answers to meaningless questions, then he will be constantly miserable. If he seeks answers to questions related to his faith, his purpose in life, he will find happiness.






Q:- Is doubting a sin for the Christian?

Elder Justin: - Yes, but there are “permitted” doubts. A doubt that you’re still alive after a fervent prayer, when your whole being had burned in prayer… This kind of doubt is allowed.

Q: – Father, what is humility?

Elder Justin: - Humility is a fair self-assessment of our human dimensions in relation to the [universe] infinite. Humility accompanied by patience move mounts, that’s how powerful can become for any Christian…

Q: – What is Golgotha [Calvary] for today’ Christian?

Elder Justin: – Man’ unbelief makes every day into a Golgotha.

Q: – Man today is more skeptical than fifty years ago? What can you say to encourage him to go forward, to cope with the trials of life?

Elder Justin: – Our modern man puts too much heart into trifles and details, is assaulted by a lot of false things and does not know how to choose. If you choose wisely, things will become easy and the life beautiful. If you choose wrongly, you are struggling. If you doubt that you have chosen well, your heart is also troubled. Our contemporary man has become too materialistic, a subject to the new tyrant: money. Everywhere we look, we hear that money is everything, the master of this world. He, who makes money his master, makes himself a servant to the devil.

Today, many dramas arouse not from differences in ideas, but from the battle with money, with all that is material. Man bought by it losses his faith and his values and becomes a mare currency.

Q: – How do you define the word happiness? … What advice would you give to Christians who come to you and say they are unhappy?

Elder Justin – Happiness is when you meet with the love of Christ humbly in prayer.

People understand happiness differently. Some who want much may not get it, and feel unhappy. While others may desire less, receive it and are content….





Q: – So happiness is at the measure of man…

Elder Justin: – Happiness is the faith that dwells in us. We have seen people that have many riches, great social positions and they’re still unhappy, because they lock faith!

Q” – There is a story in the Egyptian Paterikon: it happened that a wise elder once sat at the table with several brothers; as they were eating, the elder saw in the spirit how some ate honey, others bread, and some others dung. And the elder marveled and prayed to God, saying, “Lord, reveal to me this secret, how is that the same food is on the table before all, but they seem to eat different food.” And a voice came, saying, “They who eat honey are those who with fear, trembling and spiritual joy sit at the table and pray unceasingly so their prayers go up to God as incense. Those that eat bread give thanks to God for the food, and they who eat dung, are those who complain: “this is good, this is rotten”….

Elder Justin: – Yes, gratitude for what one has received is after all, a measure of man’ faith.


We need to pray with our hearts



• We must honored with much gratitude the sacrificial love of our martyrs.

• It is very important to know how to pray. And often, we monks in monasteries do not pray, but we just seem to be praying. It’s not enough to go to church and to sit there like you did your duty or obligation. We must insist on inner prayer. In vain we say many prayers with our mouth or our mind, if we do not sail deeply, if we do not live what we pray.

• In our times, even the laity need to deepen the Jesus prayer, as it will become our only salvation – prayer into the heart; the heart is the root of all passions and there we must labor. In the past we were able to go by in a more easy – superficial way, but for the times awaiting us, this will not be enough. If we will not have the prayer rotted in our hearts, we will not resist the psychological persecution awaiting us, because soon they will come with [hidden] methods to re-educate our minds. (the elder had the gift of prophesy/ clairvoyance, tr. note).

• Today I find that indifference [acedia] is the hardest sin. Our hearts no longer move in prayer, we have no tears of repentance. There will come a time when only those who feel the grace of the Spirit will be able to distinguish good from evil, for on its own, the human mind cannot discern. There will be times of great confusion and only the Holy Spirit can save us.

So, pray my beloved, pray so you may not enter into [temptation] deception! For only through prayer we can receive God’s grace. If we do not pray and continue in laziness and carelessness, then it is possible to lose the instinct of repentance. God forbid that we may not lose conscious!


(Translated by EC)

Monday, April 2, 2018

A Prayer written by Elder Joseph the Hesychast


O Master, our sweetest Lord Jesus Christ,
send forth Your grace and free me from the bonds
of sin. Enlighten the darkness of my soul, so that
I may apprehend Your infinite mercy, and so that
I may love and thank You worthily, my sweetest
Savior, Who is worthy of all love and thanks.
Yes, my good Benefactor and most merciful
Lord; do not withdraw Your mercy from me, but
have compassion upon Your creature.

I realize, o Lord, the weight of my
transgressions, but I am also aware of Your
inexhaustible mercy. I behold the darkness of my
insensitive soul, but I have good hope and await
for Your divine illumination and the deliverance
from my evil deeds and destructive passions,
through the intercession of Your sweetest Mother,
our Lady the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary,
and of all the Saints. Amen.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast
http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/en/index.php

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Have you noticed how some people are always grumbling? ( St. Paisios )


Have you noticed how some people are always grumbling? I have a good friend who always begins his story about his latest trip by telling me endlessly about all the problems he had with the airlines. Now, I have traveled a lot and have not normally had any particular difficulties other than an occasional delay or a lost bag, but generally I am thankful that the flight gets me from point A to point B in a very short time without much to be concerned about. But why is it that this person always has such dire troubles when he travels? My only conclusion is that he is simply a grumbler. It's the way he looks at the world and therefore experiences it an a negative way.

This attitude can be very dangerous for our spiritual well being. Negative thoughts can fill our minds and corrupt our view of the goodness that is all around us. We are not able to see and experience God's grace for us.

Elder Paisos tells a story about this issue.

I knew two farmers in Epirus. One of them was a family man who had a couple of small fields and who entrusted everything to God. He worked, as much as he could, without anxiety. He would say, "I'll do as much as I can manage." Occasionally, some of the hay bales would spoil in the rain because he didn't gather them in time, while other bales were scattered by the wind; and yet for all things he would say, "Glory to you, O God!" and everything went well for him. The other farmer had many fields, cows, and so on, but no children. If you asked him, "how are you doing?"; he would invariably respond, "Forget about it; don't even ask!" He never said, "Glory to You, O God"; he was always grumbling. And so that you will see -- sometimes a cow of his would die; sometimes one thing would happen to him, sometimes something else. He had everything, but he made no progress. So what is the spiritual message here? If we are bound up with negative thoughts all the time we will never recognize God's blessings. We become separated from God. As Elder Paisios puts it, "How are we to taste God's blessings, if He gives us, for example, bananas and we're thinking of whatever better things some ship-owner might be eating?" Those who accept what God's gives them with thanks, develop a spiritual sensitivity and are able to know and experience God's love for them. Those who continually grumble miss His energies that are always their to comfort and guide them. They live blind to God bound up by their own negative thoughts.

As the Elder puts its, "We don't understand that happiness is in eternity and not in vanity."

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family LIfe, p 158

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Will the Lord forgive those women who have had multiple abortions but have sincerely repented? . .( Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica )



Q. Will the Lord forgive those women who have had multiple abortions but have sincerely repented? What can they do to redeem their sin?

A. A woman who destroys the fruit of her womb commits a great sin. She is destroying life itself, for God alone is the Giver of life and He makes possible the conception of a human being in the womb. He gives life and a woman destroys it. Great repentance is necessary, from the depths of her soul. She must change and never commit this sin again. Otherwise, she will be condemned as a murderess. No creature on earth kills its young–only man, the rational being. This is a great sin, and if a woman does not repent from the depth of her soul, she will be condemned as a murderess. Will she pass through the toll-houses? There is no sin that cannot be forgiven but the sin of unrepentance. True and sincere repentance is required for such a sin, and it must never be repeated again.

 Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Friday, March 23, 2018

Are Passions Natural?



What is a passion? 
They are impulses that move us to action by overcoming our will. Because of this we say they enslave us. They are powerful because they are also desires which cannot be satisfied. They act as a force that goes against what we know to be the proper action and lead us to actions which are counter to the commandments of Christ. There is no single list of these passions, but the following is a common list used in early Christian literature: gluttony, unchastity, avarice, anger, dejection, listlessness, self-esteem and pride.


Their ultimate cause is the forgetting of God. Healing begins with faith.


Not all passions are bad. There are both natural and unnatural passions. Our natural passions are our appetite for food, enjoyment of food, fear and sadness. These are necessary for our the preservation of our nature. They are important animal aspect of our being given to by God. But we are more than animals as we are spiritual. Because of this we have an aspiration for the infinite. Often these natural passions which are intended for earthly preservation are transformed into unnatural passions. They are frequently transformed into a mistaken quest for the infinite in things of this material world. The soul loses control and the passions take over. Out task is to control them so they can be limited to their proper purpose. Then they can channeled to seek divine things.


Saint Maximus says,

The natural passions become good in those who struggle when, wisely unfastening them from the things of the flesh, use them to gain heavenly things. For example they can change appetite into the movement of a spiritual longing for divine things; pleasure into pure joy for the cooperation of the mind with divine gifts; fear into care to evade future misfortune due to sin and sadness into corrective repentance for present evil. So the natural passions are not necessarily bad. When we are thinking of God they are kept to their necessary biological functions. Our task is not to eradicate them but to control them, keeping them within the limits necessary for the preservation of the body. They must continually be watched and controlled. This is the basis of asceticism.


Thoughts from Fr. Dimitru Staniloae:

Asceticism means, in the spirit of Eastern thought, the restraint and discipline of the biological, not a battle for its extermination. On the contrary, asceticism means the sublimation of this element of bodily affectivity, not its abolition.... Natural passions can assume a spiritual character and give an increased accent to our love for God.... Now here is the most important point. By controlling them we increase our spiritual blessings.

Fr. Dimitru says,

By putting a bridle and a limit on the pleasure of material things, a transfer of this energy of our nature takes place, in favor of the spirit; pleasure in spiritual blessings grows. ... The challenge we face is not easy. Is difficulty is increased by our tendency to react in the wrong way. Once a pleasure leaves us we feel a loss. This can be painful. Pain or dissatisfaction always follows pleasure. This pain that follows does not lead us to take action to temper the pleasure, but does the opposite. We seek even more pleasure. The cycle continues without satisfaction.


Fr. Dimitru says,

The pain which follows pleasure, instead of making him avoid pleasure, as its source,...pushes his anew into pleasure as if to get rid of it, tangling him even more in this vicious chain. Asceticism is aimed at breaking this dysfunctional cycle of pleasure and pain, liberating us from the unnatural extension of passions that have a proper role in our bodily preservation. This bodily domination through uncontrolled passions is our main block to union with God.

Reference: Orthodox Spirituality, pp77 - 89

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Little Dimitri with the gift of insight...( God's Grace )


 
In September of a certain year, there was a great deal of turmoil observed in the Department of Oncology of the University Hospital of Rion. Little Dimitri was asking urgently for the Hospital's priest. He was insisting on immediately receiving Holy Communion...
He was 13. He had been in that specific clinic for about one and a half years. A minor headache had led him there. The doctors had diagnosed brain cancer. His native town was Fieri of Albania; his parents unbaptized. They had lived in Patra for several years. Shortly after his admission to the Hospital, the young boy had asked to be baptized. He had heard about Christ, and wanted to become a "child" of His. He was baptized, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" - after the necessary catechesis of course. 

Everyone in the clinic was extremely fond of him. The cancer had progressed considerably, and had by now deprived him of his sight. He was entirely unable to see, anything and anyone. But he could listen, with the utmost and amazing patience. He never complained. He would say that God loved him very much. He prayed, and would ask his parents to do the same. 

All those who visited him could perceive that there was something different in that boy. He spoke constantly about God. He was always courteous and happy. His face shone. He wanted to partake of the Precious Gifts frequently. When his mother would sometimes be in another area of the clinic, he would shout out to her:
"Mother, come quickly! Papa is coming, with Christ! He is coming up the stairs! Come and get me ready!" 

And that was exactly what would happen: the priest would come, and he would find little Dimitri sitting upright in his bed, with his mouth wide open and crossing himself with reverence. Even though he never knew the exact time of the priest's arrival, he could "see" him coming, with his gift of insight - and despite the two closed doors that came between his room and the corridor that the priest was coming from. This has been verified by the pious Mrs. Maria Galiatsatou, who had volunteered to look after that boy.
"Mrs. Maria, I want to tell you something", he said to her one day. "When Papa comes together with Christ, I can see him approaching as he walks up the stairs, and next to him are two tall, beautiful people with pure white gowns, who lean towards the Holy Chalice to protect it, with their arms outstretched."
One time, when the doctor asked him: "How are you, my little Dimitri?"
He replied: "Mister Doctor, can I tell you something privately? I am just fine. But you shouldn't worry so much because your wife went away. God will be with you, because you are a good person." 

The doctor remained frozen for an instant. No-one else knew about the grievous incident that had occurred the previous day at his place: that his wife had abandoned him, to be with another man.....
"Now that is a child of God" was what those who had met him would say.
The last time that he received Holy Communion, he was unable to sit up in his bed, but he did receive Christ with joy and longing as he lay there.
"Thank you very much", he whispered and then went to sleep forever. When the priest went to the morgue the next day to read the Trisaghion Prayer over little Dimitri, he remarked:
«It's the first time in my life that I have seen a corpse like this. His face was smiling...it was aglow.... and it had the colour of amber».
His parents came to love Christ very much, and they now want to be baptized also.... 

* One of the signs that Orthodoxy acknowledges in a reposed saintly person is also the colour of the skin, which takes on a translucent amber appearance.


Taken from the book: "ASCETICS IN THE WORLD" , pp.378–380, ISBN: 978-960-89593-2-3,
Publications of the Sacred Retreat «Saint John the Forerunner», Metamorphosis, Chalkidiki

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saint Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland



Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, was seized from his native Britain by Irish marauders when he was sixteen years old. Though the son of a deacon and a grandson of a priest, it was not until his captivity that he sought out the Lord with his whole heart. 
 
In his Confession, the testament he wrote towards the end of his life, he says, "After I came to Ireland - every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed - the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was so moved that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many at night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain; and I would rise for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm." 
 
After six years of slavery in Ireland, he was guided by God to make his escape, and afterwards struggled in the monastic life at Auxerre in Gaul, under the guidance of the holy Bishop Germanus. Many years later he was ordained bishop and sent to Ireland once again, about the year 432, to convert the Irish to Christ. His arduous labours bore so much fruit that within seven years, three bishops were sent from Gaul to help him shepherd his flock, "my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord - so many thousands of people," he says in his Confession.
 
 His apostolic work was not accomplished without much "weariness and painfulness," long journeys through difficult country, and many perils; he says his very life was in danger twelve times. When he came to Ireland as its enlightener, it was a pagan country; when he ended his earthly life some thirty years later, about 461, the Faith of Christ was established in every corner.


Apolytikion in the Third Tone

O Holy Hierarch, equal of the Apostles, Saint Patrick, wonderworker and enlightener of Ireland: Intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.


Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

The Master revealed thee as a skillful fisher of men; and casting forth nets of Gospel preaching, thou drewest up the heathen to piety. Those who were the children of idolatrous darkness thou didst render sons of day through holy Baptism. O Patrick, intercede for us who honour thy memory

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bearing the Shame of Confession..( Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou )




From “Remember thy First Love” by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Question: In taking the steps which you have presented to us, the most difficult thing, I think, is to overcome the fear of shame. This is what I try to do in my parish. People will not come to confession although their souls are burdened and things are driving them crazy, because they cannot overcome the shame to admit their sins. How do you lead people in this direction?

Answer: I think that the strength to bear shame is a gift from God. When I was a young and inexperienced spiritual father, Elder Sophrony told me to encourage the young people to confess precisely the things of which they are ashamed, for if they learn to do so, shame is transformed into strength against the passions, and they will overcome sin. This is precisely what occurred in the person of Zacchaeus. He bore shame voluntarily, and the Lord, Who was on His way to Jerusalem in order to suffer the Cross of shame, saw Zacchaeus bearing shame for His sake and recognized in him a kindred spirit. Zacchaeus had put himself prophetically in the way of the Christ, in the way of the Cross, and in a prophetic way the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ was activated in the heart of Zacchaeus. His heart was enlarged and he was able to enter into the power of faith. Christ has saved us through the Cross of shame, so when we suffer shame for His sake He considers this as gratitude, and in return He transmits to us His grace which regenerates our life.

This is exactly what happens in confession. Those who confess sincerely and take upon themselves the shame for their sins are regenerated. But those who shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Nothing special, the usual things…’ they do not bear any shame, their heart remains unmoved, and they hardly receive any benefit. But those who, with shame and a contrite heart, strip their souls naked before God and before another mortal, ‘of like passions’ (Acts 14:15) with them—that shame of theirs really finds the heart, humbles it and brings it to the surface. This then, opens the heart to receive the grace of regeneration, of consolation. We see this in the life of many that come to us: the greater the shame they bear with contrition, accusing themselves before God, the greater the grace they receive to amend their lives and make a new beginning.


Source: Orthodox Heritage Vol. 10, Issue 11-12

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In order to be reconciled to someone with whom we are at odds, the first thing we are to do is to accuse ourselves.

The Holy Fathers tell us that, in order to be reconciled to someone with whom we are at odds, the first thing we are to do is to accuse ourselves, not the other person. If we do not accuse ourselves, we will never find rest, and we will never make true and lasting peace with our neighbor. We will always be holding onto our pride. 
Abba Dorotheus provides us with a good example of this from his own experience as the Superior of a monastery. He says: "Once there came to me two brothers who were always fighting. The older one was saying about the younger one, 'I arrange for him to do something and he gets distressed, and so I get distressed, thinking that if he had faith and love towards me he would accept what I tell him with complete confidence.' And the younger was saying, 'Forgive me, reverend father, but he does not speak to me with the fear of God, but rather as someone who wants to give orders. 
I guess this is why my heart does not have full confidence in him, as the Holy Fathers say.' Notice that each blames the other and neither blames himself. Both of them are getting upset with one another, and although they are begging each other's pardon, they both remain unconvinced 'because he does not from his heart show me deference and, therefore, I am not convinced, for the Fathers say that he should.' And the other says, 'Since he will not have complete confidence in my love until I show him deference, I, for my part, do not have complete confidence in him.' My God, do you see how ridiculous this is? Do you see their perverse way of thinking? God knows how sorry I am about this; that we take the sayings of the Holy Fathers to excuse our own will and the destruction of our souls. 
Each of these brothers had to throw the blame on the other.... What they really ought to do is just the opposite. The first ought to say: 'I speak with presumption and therefore God does not give my brother confidence in me.' And the other ought to be thinking: 'My brother gives me commands with humility and love, but I am unruly and have not the fear of God.' Neither of them found that way and blamed himself, but each of them vexed the other.

Hieromonk Damascene 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Differences Among Trials


A section taken from “Elder Joseph the Hesychast: Struggles, Experiences, Teachings,” by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi

Trials, or temptations (πειρασμοὶ -- peirasmoi) are so called because they engender experience (πεῖρα -- peira), since in the unseen warfare they do indeed afford spiritual knowledge to those who are mindful. Anything is called a temptation if it is in opposition to our struggle for faith and true piety as we press on towards submission to God, but they are sub-divided into various kinds, according to the understanding of the Fathers. 
There are the trials of those actively engaged in the struggle, so that they may make additional gains and progress in their struggle. There are the trials of the slothful and unwilling, to make them beware of things that are harmful and dangerous.
 There are the trials of those who are drowsy or sleeping, in order to wake them up. Then again there are the trials of those who have distanced themselves and gone astray, to make them draw near to God. Different again are the trials of the righteous and friends of God, so that they may inherit the promise. There are also trials of the perfect, which God permits in order to bring them forward in the Church for the strengthening of the faithful and as an example to be emulated. There is also another kind of trial, again of the perfect, such as those endured by our Lord and the Apostles, who fulfilled the law of communion with the world by taking up the trials which are ours.


Spiritual fathers also participate in this law of ‘communion’ by bearing the burdens and the weaknesses of their spiritual children through prayers and other struggles, supplementing what is lacking in others. There is also another way, according to the Fathers, in which one person may be a sharer in someone else’s trials, and this is as follows: the accuser shares in the trials of the accused, the slanderer in those of the slandered, the wrongdoer in those of the wronged -- especially when those who are wronged endure the harm done to them without a murmur.

We shall speak at this point of the trials of those who are making progress as a result of their attentiveness and willingness to struggle, which -- again in the judgment of our Fathers -- are usually the following: indolence, heaviness of body, languor of the limbs, listlessness, confusion of the mind, suspicion of bodily sickness -- faintheartedness, in other words -- darkening of the thoughts, being abandoned by human help, deprivation in their external needs and the like. All these things, when -- by God’s consent -- they befall participants in the struggle, give rise to a sense of dereliction. Their faith then begins to waver, as if the hope which had given them heart up till then had been cut off. But secretly grace consoles them so that they do not change their regime, because it convinces them that the trial has not come from themselves, since everything testifies that they have not abandoned their consistent good practice. After facing this difficulty and receiving the mystical consolation of grace, they turn with faith and yearning towards God who has power to save them, and fall down in humility asking His salvation, which is the end to which they have endured these trials. Such, according to the Fathers, are the trails of those who are advanced and making progress in spiritual matters.

In those who chance to neglect their duties or, which is the most terrible, fall into self-conceit and pride, the trials are different and harsher, in the same way as surgical operations and excisions are called for in cases of serious illness. The demons at first make war on them openly and quite shamelessly and insistently, and beyond their strength (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). They experience a darkening of the mind so that they lose the power of discrimination altogether, and imbecility and idiotic thoughts abound; an intense war of the flesh, pressing their will to go contrary to nature; anger for no reason and intractability in whatever concerns their own will; quarrelling on the spur of the moment and rebuking people at random; blasphemous thoughts against God; a loss of courage in the heart; being mocked by the demons, secretly and openly; lack of restraint in idle talk and, in general, a desire for the world and for idle vanities. After that, trials which are severe and hard to dispel: strange and unusual symptoms of illness and painful wounds, a poverty and dereliction that is extraordinary and defies consolation, and all other things that seem impossible and insoluble, giving rise to despair and fear because the heart is devoid of hope. All these things are consequences mainly of pride, and come upon the person who has been led astray into believing in himself; these are all also the medicines for his healing, to make him sober up and humble himself and vomit out the bile of this devastating perversion.

Just as in matters of grace there are means of assistance which augment our progress both in time and in quantity, so also on the side of error there are factors which contribute to its fluctuation. On the side of grace, when by the grace of Christ someone treads the strait and narrow way (Mt. 7:14) of the commandments according to the measure of his understanding and accompanied by humility and compassion in the service of love, he increases the aid and illumination given by grace.

Something comparable happens on the side of deception. If impatience and grumbling are added to it, one’s cross becomes twice as heavy, if not more. Faintheartedness and lack of hope are the most excruciating horrors of the unseen warfare, and are reserved for hard and unhumbled characters as the harshest lesson, which is a taste of hell itself and of punishment, a palpable sign of desertion and dereliction. Here it takes the prayers of saints and the intervention of a miracle for the heart to be softened. Many prayers and tears are needed for this sick soul to be reunited with grace and to be healed: otherwise it is inevitable that error will conquer, and that way lies madness and destruction.

O blessed humility and gratitude! Who is wise and will keep thy ways and understand thy statutes, that he may win thee totally and have thee as his intimate companion: that thou mayest go before him and follow him in all his ways, until thou presentest him to thy Master and King, who has taken thee as His delight and sharer of His throne and has revealed thee to us! For he says, ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ (and not just in appearance) ‘and you will find rest for your souls’! (Mt. 11:29).

It was not our intention to repeat so many problems and explanations that are familiar to us from the Fathers; we were carried away by our train of thought, since almost unintentionally we found ourselves amidst the whirlwinds of trials to which we so often fall victim through our many deficiencies and lapses in attention.

The ever-memorable Elder [Joseph] never stopped explaining to us at every stage of our life, in his own winsome way, the aim and purpose of these misfortunes that befall us. We understood the movement and functioning of these misfortunes constantly within the framework of the spiritual law which regulated everything in our lives in detail. Indeed, how much wisdom is concealed here for those who have understanding in the science of the spiritual life, when they chart their course over this ocean of life using nothing but this lodestone of the spiritual law, ‘the law of the spirit of life’ (Rom. 8:2).

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Saying thank you to God... ( St. Basil the Great )



“When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great

Thursday, March 1, 2018

St. John Maximovitch of the intercessions of the Theotokos



The Most-holy Theotokos and Christ

Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to Her. Especially near to Her are those who labour in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares She is an irreplaceable helper.
 "Joy of all who sorrow, and intercessors for the offended, and feeder of the hungry, consolation of travellers, harbour of the storm-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm staff of old age, Thou are the Mother of God on high, O Most Pure One" (Sticheron of the Service to the Hodigitria). "The hope and intercession and refuge of Christians", "The Mother of God unceasing in prayers" (Theotokion of the Third Tone). "She day and night doth pray for us and the sceptres of kingdoms are confirmed by Her prayers" (daily Nocturne).


-St. John Maximovitch of Shanghai and San Francisco, "Orthodox Veneration of the Theotokos"

http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.ca/2016/08/st-john-maximovitch-of-intercessions-of.html

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Theology is the content of our prayers ( Elder Sophrony )



The contemporary spiritual, theological problem concerns the person [πρόσωπο]… Revelation reveals that “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). If He says, “I am” it means that He is a person. The word “I” has great significance. For it expresses the person. God says, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Science cannot say this. Only revelation can say this. And we need to base ourselves on revelation, which the Lord never refuted…Theology is the content of our prayers. And an example of this theology is the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great. 
The whole anaphora is theology and is expressed through prayer. But then theology comes as a state of being. John the Theologian, from an academic point of view, was not a theologian, he says things simply. His theology, however, is a state of being. Whatever he says becomes dogma for everyone. But the only study that enables us to sense what God is like, is the ascetic life according to the commandments of the Gospel. 
When our life is lived according to the will of God, then we understand that there cannot be a difference between the commandments and the mind of God Himself. When we think according to the commandments, then our mind gets used to thinking as God Himself thinks. And regarding theosis, they say: but what is theosis? With obedience to the abbot from the beginning, one’s will is cut off, then in obedience to the Gospel commandments one reaches this state. We do small things but the results must become great. 
Through obedience we enter into the life of divine Being. We have good descriptions of this in the writings of St. Nicodemus the Athonite. I have told others, as well, that when they learn things from the world, they are living in sin. They need to free themselves through asceticism. This is how I tried to make them understand the need for patience. 
Just as the Incarnation was a great kenotic act, where Christ God became man as one person and bore our sins patiently with humility and love. In following Him, we become true persons in Him and realize our life and fully live our freedom. It is here where personhood finds its greatest achievement: in putting on Christ and His indwelling in us by the Holy Spirit sent from God the Father. The very essence of our life must become constant personal encounter with Christ, and in this we become truly persons, truly free, truly loving. This is how personhood is understood in theosis. 
We fulfill our personhood in living in Christ and His dwelling within us, and inasmuch as He has perfected humanity, He raises us in freedom, in love, to the fulfillment of our humanity, as true persons in Him. 
Elder Sophrony 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fasting is an ordinance of the Church, obliging the Christian to observe it on specific days... ( Saint Nektarios of Egina )

Fasting is an ordinance of the Church, obliging the Christian to observe it on specific days. Concerning fasting, our Savior teaches: "When thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father Who is in secret: and thy Father, Who seethe in secret, shall reward thee openly." 
From what the Savior teaches we learn 
(a) that fasting is pleasing to God, and 
(b) that he who fasts for the uplifting of his mind and heart towards God shall be rewarded by God, Who is a most liberal bestower of Divine gifts, for his devotion.

In the New Testament fasting is recommended as a means of preparing the mind and the heart for divine worship, for long prayer, for rising from the earthly, and for spiritualization.

Saint Nektarios of Egina

Monday, February 19, 2018

Great Lent begins...( St. John Chrysostom )

The value of fasting consists not in abstinence only from food, but in a relinquishment of sinful practices, since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meat is he who especially disparages it.


The change in our way of life during these blessed days will help us to gain holiness.

Therefore, we should let our soul rejoice during the fast.


St. John Chrysostom

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The heart naturally seeks happiness and the Devil gives a false direction to this tendency, ( St. John of Kronstadt )



If God had not been incarnate upon earth, if He had not made us godly, if He had not taught us in His Own person how to live, what to hope for and expect, if He had not pointed out to us another perfect and eternal life, if He had not suffered and died and risen from the dead, then we should still have had some reason to live, as we all now live, that is to mostly lead a carnal, earthly life.

But, now, we ought to meditate upon higher things, and count all earthly things but dung, for, everything earthly is nothing, in comparison with heavenly things.

Meanwhile, the Devil, the father of lies, in spite of the Savior’s teaching and His spirit, teaches us to attach ourselves to earthly goods, and forcibly nails our sensual heart to them.

The heart naturally seeks happiness and the Devil gives a false direction to this tendency, and allures it by earthly happiness, that is ,by riches, honors, splendor of dress, furniture, silver, equipages, gardens and various amusements.

St. John of Kronstadt

Monday, February 12, 2018

On the little things in Life ( St. John Maximovitch )



Many people believe that to live according to the faith and to fulfill the will of God is very difficult. Actually, it’s very easy. One needs only attend to details, to trifles, and try to avoid evil in the slightest and most trivial things. This is the simplest and surest way to enter the world of the spirit and draw near to God.

A man often thinks that the Creator demands great things of him, that the Gospel insists on complete self- sacrifice, the abolition of one’s personhood, etc., as a condition of faith. A man is so frightened by this that he begins to be afraid of becoming acquainted with God, of drawing near to God, and hides himself from God, not even wishing to look into God’s Word. “If I can’t do anything important for God, then I’d just better stay away from things spiritual, stop thinking about eternity, and live ‘in a normal way’.”

There exists at the entrance to the spiritual realm a “hypnosis of great deeds:” one must either do some big thing or do nothing. And so people do nothing at all for God or for their souls! It is very strange—the more a man is devoted to the little things of life, the less he wishes to be honest or pure or faithful to God in those same little things. And, moreover, each one must adopt a correct attitude toward little things if one wishes to come near to the kingdom of heaven.

Wishes to come near: In this is summed up all the difficulties of the religious life. Often one wishes to enter into the kingdom of heaven quite unexpectedly, in some miraculous and magical way, or, by right—through some kind of great feat. But neither the one nor the other is the right way to find the higher world. One does not enter God’s presence in some wondrous manner while remaining indifferent on earth to the needs of the kingdom of God and its bright eternity, nor can one purchase the treasures of the kingdom of God by some kind of eternal act, however great that act might be. Yet good deeds, holy deeds are necessary for one to grow into a higher life, a bright will, a good desire, a heavenly psychology, a heart that is both pure and fair.

A glass of water: Verily, verily I say unto you that whosoever offers one of the least of these but a cup of cold water, in the name of a disciple, shall not lose his reward. In this saying of the Lord is the highest expression of the smallness of the good. “A glass of water”—this is not much.

Communicating in good spirit: In every communication between people there must without fail be a good spirit: this spirit is Christ, openly manifest or hidden. “In the name of a disciple:” this is the first step in communicating with another person in the name of Jesus Christ Himself. Many people, not as yet knowing the Lord and the wondrous fellowship in His Name still have among themselves an unselfish, pure and human fellowship which brings them ever closer to the Spirit of Christ.

The lesser good is necessary: As a matter of fact, the lesser good is more necessary for mankind than the greater. People can get along with their lives without the greater good; without the lesser they cannot exist. Mankind perishes not from a lack of the greater good, but from an insufficiency of just this lesser good. The greater good is no more than a roof, erected on the brick walls of the lesser good.

The lesser, easier good was left on this earth for man by the Creator Himself, who took all the greater good upon Himself. Whosoever does the lesser, the same creates—and through him the Creator Himself creates—the greater good. Of our little good the Creator makes His Own great good. For as our Lord is the Creator who formed all things from nothingness, so is He more able to create the greater good from the lesser.

Through such lesser, easy work, done with the greatest simplicity, a man is accustomed to the good and begins to serve it with his whole heart, sincerely, and in this way enters into an atmosphere of good, lets down the roots of his life into new soil, the soil of the good. The roots of human life quickly accommodate themselves to this good earth, and soon cannot live without it... Thus is a man saved: from the small comes the great. “Faithful in little things” turns out to be “faithful in the greater.”

Our moral sense: Lay aside all theoretical considerations that it is forbidden to slaughter millions, women, children, and elderly; be content to manifest your moral sense by in no way killing the human dignity of your neighbor, neither by word, nor by innuendo, nor by gesture. Do not be angry over trifles against your brother vainly (Mt 5:22) or in the daily contacts of life speak untruth to your neighbor. These are trifles, small change, of no account; but just try to do this and you will see what comes of it.
Prayer: It is hard to pray at night. But try in the morning. If you can’t manage to pray at home than at least as you ride to your place of employment attempt with a clear head the “Our Father” and let the words of this short prayer resound in your heart. And at night commend yourself with complete sincerity into the hands of the Heavenly Father. This indeed is very easy.

And give, give a glass of cold water to everyone who has need of it; give a glass filled to the brim with simple human companionship to everyone that lack it, the very simplest companionship...

O wondrous path of little things, I sing thee a hymn! Surround yourselves, O people, gird up yourselves with little works of good— with a chain of little, simple, easy and good feelings which cost us naught, a chain of bright thoughts, words and deeds. Let us abandon the big and the difficult. That is for them that love it and not for us for whom the Lord in His Mercy, for us who have not yet learned to love the greater, has poured forth the lesser love everywhere, free as water and air.

Vol. 12, Issue 05-06 Orthodox - Heritage,

Friday, February 9, 2018

Everything that He does, He does for our benefit... ( Abba Dorotheus )

When we suffer something unpleasant from our best friend, we know that he did not do it intentionally and that he loves us. We must think likewise of God, Who created us, for our sake incarnated, and died for our sake having endured enormous suffering. We must remind ourselves that He does everything from His goodness and from His love for us. 
We may think that while our friend loves us, in not having sufficient good sense in order to do everything correctly, he therefore involuntarily hurt us. This cannot be said of God because He is the highest wisdom. He knows what is good for us and accordingly, directs everything for our benefit, even in the smallest things. It can also be said that although our friend loves us and is sufficiently sensible, he is powerless to help us. But this certainly cannot be said of God, because to Him everything is possible and nothing is difficult for Him. 
Consequently, we know that God loves us and shows clemency toward us, that He is eternally wise and omnipotent. Everything that He does, He does for our benefit, and we should accept it with gratitude as from a Benefactor, even though it may appear to be grievous.

Abba Dorotheus 

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Love the Word of God.. ( Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk )


Love the Word of God, that is the Scriptures, handed down to us by the prophets and apostles, as God Himself. For the word of God is the word of God's mouth. If you love God, then without fail you will love the word of God also. For the word of God is God's epistle or letter to us unworthy ones, and is His supreme gift to us for the sake of our salvation. 
If you love the Sender, then also love the letter which is sent from Him to you. For the word of God is given by God to me, to you, and to everyone, so that everyone who desires to be saved may receive salvation through it.

Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Faith is the door to mysteries...( Saint Isaac The Syrian )

What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects,the same is faith to the eyes of the understanding that gaze at hidden treasures.Even as we have two bodily eyes,we possess two eyes of the soul,as the Fathers say;yet both have not the same operation with respect to divine vision.With one we see the hidden Glory of God which is concealed in the natures of things;that is to say,we behold His power,His wisdom, and His eternal providence for us,which we understand from the magnitude of His governance on our behalf.With this same eye we also behold the heavenly orders of our fellow servants.With the other,we behold the glory of His Holy nature.When God is pleased to admit us to spiritual mysteries,He opens wide the sea of faith in our minds.



Repentance is given to the sons of men as grace after grace,for repentance is a second regeneration by God.That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of repentance.Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it.By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy.'For all have sinned',according to divine Scripture,'being justified freely by His grace.

'Repentance is the second grace and is begotten in the heart by faith and fear.


Fear is the paternal rod that guides our way until we reach the spiritual paradise of good things;and when we have attained thereto,it leaves us and turns back.

Paradise is the love of God,wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness,and there the blessed Paul partook of supernatural nourishment.When he tasted there of the tree of life,he cried out,saying,'eye that hath not seen,nor ear heard,neither have entered into the heart of man,the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him'.Adam was barred from this tree through the devil's counsel.


The tree of life is the love of God from which Adam fell away,and thereafter he saw joy no longer,and he toiled and labored in the land of thorns.Even though they make their way in righteousness,those who are bereft of the love of God eat in their work the bread of sweat,which the first-created man was commanded to eat after his fall.

Until we find love,our labor is in the land of thorns,and in the midst of thorns we both sow and reap,even if our seed is the seed of righteousness,and in every hour we are pricked by the thorns,and however much we render ourselves righteous,we live by the sweat of our brow.

But when we find love,we partake of heavenly bread and are made strong without labor and toil.The heavenly bread is Christ,Who came down from Heaven and gave life to the world.This is the nourishment of the angels.

The man who has found love eats and drinks Christ every day and hour and hereby is made immortal.;He that eateth of this bread,;He says,;which i will give him,shall not see death unto eternity.'Blessed is he who eats the bread of love,which is Jesus!He who eats of love eats Christ,the God over all,as John bears witness,saying,'God is love.'

Wherefore,the man who lives in love reaps life from God,and while yet in this world,he even now breathes the air of the resurrection;in this air the righteous will delight in the resurrection.

Love is the kingdom,whereof the Lord mystically promised His disciples to eat in his Kingdom.For when we hear Him say,'Ye shall eat and drink at the table of My Kingdom,;what do we suppose we shall eat,if not love?Love is sufficient to nourish a man instead of food and drink.


This is the wine that 'maketh glad the heart of man.'Blessed is he who drinks of this wine!Profligates have drunk this wine and felt shame;sinners have drunk it and have forgotten the pathways of stumbling;drunkards have drunk this wine and become fasters,the rich have drunk it and desired poverty;the poor have drunk it and been made rich with hope;the sick have drunk it and become strong;the unlearned have taken it and been made wise.

As it is not possible to cross over the great ocean without a ship,so no one can attain to love without fear.This fetid sea,which lies between us and the noetic paradise,we can cross with the boat of repentance, whose oarsmen are those of fear.

But if the oarsmen of fear do not pilot this barque of repentance wherewith we cross over the sea of this world to God,we shall be drowned in the fetid sea.Repentance is the ship,and fear is the pilot;love is the divine haven.



Thus fear sets us in the ship of repentance,transports us over the foul sea of this life(that is,of the world),and guides us to the divine port,which is love.

Hither proceed all that labor and are afflicted and heavy laden in repentance.When we attain love,we attain to God.Our way is ended and we have passed unto the isle that lies beyond the world,where is the Father,and the Son,and the Holy Spirit,to Whom be glory and dominion,and may He make us worthy of His glory and His love through the fear of Him.Amen.

Saint Isaac the Syrian

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

In the Kingdom of Christ to come, there will no longer be need for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.. ( St. John Maximovitch )

In the Kingdom of Christ to come, there will no longer be need for receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, for all who have been vouchsafed it will be in closest converse with Him and will enjoy the pre-eternal light of the Life originating Trinity, experiencing that blessedness which no tongue can express, and which is incomprehensible to our feeble mind. For this reason after partaking of the Holy Mysteries at Liturgy, in the altar is always pronounced the prayer which we sing on Paschal days: "O Christ, Thou great and most sacred Pascha! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant us to partake of Thee more fully in the unwaning day of Thy kingdom" (Paschal Canon, 9th Ode).

St. John Maximovitch