Saturday, December 16, 2017

St. John of Kronstadt and the Education of Children



St. John of Kronstadt brings homeless children to the shelter.

A child’s soul is divine beauty
St. John of Kronstadt considered love for children to be the foundation of a teacher’s work—a foundation that is very often denied by modern-day so-called technicians of secular educational sciences and activities. He said to the students of the gymnasium where he taught, “You are my children, for I gave birth to you and continue to give birth in you to the good tidings of Jesus Christ. My spiritual blood—my instructions—flow in your veins. You are my children, because I have you always in my heart and I pray for you. You are my children, because you are my spiritual offspring. You are my children, because truly, as a priest I am a father, and you call me “batiushka” (“little father”, an affectionate term for a priest).

In Fr. John lived a kind of unearthly, angelic love for children, which inspired him and motivated the entire educational process. It was a special gift of God’s grace, which burned in him so strongly that in later years, when he was no longer teaching, he often healed sick children with the power of love and prayer, continually blessing and instructing them in the faith. How often did he weep over sick children, especially if they were spiritually sick! Once he stroked the head of an emotionally ill boy, and another time he kissed a seriously ill girl in the hospital, kneeling before her bed. “My dear, are you in pain? My little sufferer!” Fr. John lamented.”

Father John’s strictness
Nevertheless, Fr. John could be abrupt. One day a sixteen-year-old boy who was extremely lazy and morally spoiled, expressed his disbelief before the entire class in the divinity of the Holy Spirit. Fr. John called him godless and a miscreant, but he did answer his question. Later he summoned him for a separate conversation, after which the boy felt renewed and strengthened in spirit.
Some recall how a noblewoman complained to Fr. John about the degradation of religious and moral education of her children. “Their teachers,” she said, “taught them everything they need to pass the exams and be clever.” “You should say that they pounded them and not taught them,” Fr. John corrected her. “When being pounded with spiritual knowledge, they have the same feeling as when they are learning arithmetic and so on. But how about you? Do you take care of their souls? Have you directed them so that besides human approval they would strive for God’s approval?” “I suggest it to them according to my strength,” the lady answered him. “After all, one can’t find the door to one’s own child’s heart.” “You didn’t find the door to the heart, so you’ll get beasts instead of humans,” Fr. John replied. “You have forgotten that the Lord has shown mankind an example in the bird species. A bird first gives birth to an egg, and until this egg has been kept for the proper time in maternal warmth, it remains an inanimate object. It is the same with people. The born child is that egg—with the beginnings of earthly life, but inanimate with respect to his blossoming in Christ. The child who has not been warmed by his parents and family to the root of his soul, to the root of all his feelings, will remain dead in spirit for God and good works. And it is precisely from these children not warmed by love and spiritual care that those generations come into the world, from which the prince of this world will recruit his armies against God and His holy Church.”

The loftiness of trust and responsibility in the education of God’s children
Fr. John warned that God and parents have entrusted their children to the teacher, and this requires responsibility and a careful relationship to them. He often noted that everything beautiful, individual, and unique has already been placed in the child’s heart as in a seed. God also provides everything needed for their growth and development; but for our modest, but extraordinarily difficult and painstaking work—education—we must have love, and care for the children. But as great is the responsibility, so great also is the reward for conscientious work entrusted by God; for children are His inheritance. In them is not only our future, but also our present, and especially the eternal future. “Be strongly vigilant,” Fr. John reminds teachers, “that you never disdain in your heart any of these little ones (cf. Matt. 18:10) whom you might dislike for some reason. You are disdaining God’s angel, which was assigned to watch over him. You are disdaining God’s child; you are disdaining the Lord Himself, the Father of all children, first of all.” Thus, whoever violates the least of these commandments out of negligence, considering it insignificant, and teaches others to do the same, will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven (according to St. John Chrysostom’s exegesis, “the violator of the law will be the least, that is, the last, cast out and unworthy of the Kingdom of Heaven”), and whoever keeps and teaches [the commandments] will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matt. 5:19).




St. John’s commandment to teachers
What does Fr. John command the instructors of children for the discernment of and caution against sin? What does he command the children themselves so that they would know of the danger and consequences of sin? He said, “Warn the children about sin and its consequences!” And he instructed, “Do not leave children without attention with regard to uprooting from their hearts the chaff of sin, wicked, evil, and blasphemous thoughts, sinful passions, inclinations, and habits, from which our lives are also made. The enemy of salvation and the sinful flesh does not spare the children either, and the seeds of all the sins are also in them. Present a picture to the children of the whole danger and sorrowful consequences of their sins, so that they out of ignorance and unreasonableness would not be formed by their elders on the path of life in sinful passions and habits, which multiply and grow with age.”
Christian upbringing is the first line of defense in the struggle for the salvation of a child’s soul. Fr. John, who himself had difficulty learning as a child, was according to the recollections of his contemporaries a remarkable pedagogue. He never resorted to methods of teaching that were often found in schools: neither to excess strictness, nor to the moral humiliation of slow learners. Well known was his warm, soulful relationship to the students as well as to the work of teaching itself. He had no “slow learners”. Everyone at his lessons without exception greedily soaked in his every word. They couldn’t wait for his lessons to start. His lessons were more of a pleasure for the students than a heavy burden and obligation. It was living conversation, engaging speech, and interesting, attention-grabbing stories.
There were often cases when Fr. John would defend a lazy student who had been “condemned” to expulsion, and he would take the child’s correction upon himself. A few years would pass, and the child who seemed to be a hopeless case would be raised up as a worthy individual.
Christians, first of all, should take care that the children grow to be unwavering in the Christian faith, true children of God, living members of the Church, so that Christ would be formed in their hearts (cf. Gal. 4:19), so that more than anything in earthly life they would love and prefer God, then their neighbor as themselves (Mt. 22:37-40). So that the goal of their lives, in the words of St. Seraphim of Sarov, would be the “acquisition of the Holy Spirit” unto the salvation of their souls.



Archpriest Alexander Zelenenko

Translation from Pravoslavie.ru

By Nun Cornelia (Rees)
http://orthochristian.com/99885.html

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Ten Drachmas: The Lord in the Guise of a Woman ( St. Nikolai Velimirovich )


Can you believe that Christ the Saviour portrayed Himself in the guise of a woman in two of His parables? 
One is that of the woman who took three measures of flour and made dough. But first let us speak of the other one where the Lord tells us about the woman who had ten drachmas and lost one. These are the most mysterious of all the Saviour's parables. As the parable of the lost drachma is short, we quote it in full.

Or what woman, having ten drachmas, if she lose one, does not light a candle and sweep the house and look diligently till she finds it? And after she has found it, she calls in her friends and neighbors and says, Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma that I lost (Luke 15:8-9).


At first glance this parable seems so simple, or even naive, that it does not impress the reader of the Gospel. In fact, however, the mystery of the universe is revealed in this simple parable.


If we take it literally, it evokes bewilderment. The woman lost only one drachma. Even ten drachmas do not represent a great sum; in fact, a woman who has only ten drachmas must be very poor indeed. Let us assume, first of all, that the finding of the lost drachma meant a great gain for her. Yet it still presents a paradox, for how is it that if she is such a poor woman she lights lamps, sweeps the house and calls in all her friends and neighbors to share her joy. And all because of one drachma! Such a waste of time-lighting a candle and setting the house in order first of all! Furthermore, if she invites her neighbors she is obliged, according to Eastern custom, to offer them something to eat and drink, no small expense for a poor woman. To fail to do so would be to ignore an unalterable custom.


Another important point to note is that she did not invite only one woman to whom she might have offered sweets, which would not have involved great expense. But she invited many friends and neighbors, and even if she entertained them modestly the expense would far exceed the value of the drachma she had found. Why then should she seek the drachma so diligently and rejoice at finding it, only to lose it again in another way? If we try to understand this parable in its literal sense, it does not fit into the frame of everyday life, but leaves the impression of something exaggerated and incomprehensible. So let us try to discover its mystical or hidden meaning. Who is the woman? And why is it a woman and not a man, when a man is more likely to lose money in the ordinary routine of life? Whose house is it that she sweeps and fills with light? Who are her friends and neighbors? If we look for the spiritual instead of the literal meaning of the parable we shall find the answers to those questions. The Lord said, Seek and ye shall find.


The woman represents Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God. The ten drachmas are His. It is He Who has lost one of them and sets out to look for it. The drachmas are not coins of gold or silver. According to Orthodox theologians, the number ten represents fulness. The nine unlost drachmas are the nine orders of angels. The number of angels is beyond the grasp of mortals, for it exceeds our power of calculation. The lost drachma represents mankind in its entirety. Therefore Christ the Saviour came down from heaven to earth, to His house, and lit a candle, the light of the knowledge of Himself. He cleaned out the house-that is, He purified the world of diabolic impurity-and found the lost drachma, erring and lost humanity. Then He called his friends and neighbors (after His glorious Resurrection and Ascension), that is to say, all the countless hosts of the cherubim and seraphim, angels and archangels, and revealed to them His great joy. Rejoice with Me. I have found the lost drachma! That means: I have found men to fill the void in the Kingdom of Heaven, caused by the fall of the proud angels who apostasized from God. At the end of time the number of these found and saved souls will have grown to billions, or, in the language of Scripture, will be as countless as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.


Our Lord described Himself as a woman because women are more careful than men in looking after property, in keeping the house in order and in receiving guests. If this short parable, which consists of only two sentences, is explained in this way, whose heart will not tremble? for it contains the whole tragedy of the world, visible and invisible. It explains why the Son of God came to earth. It sheds a bright ray of light on the history of mankind and the tragedy of each individual's existence. It confronts us with an urgent decision, because our life is swiftly passing-a decision as to whether we want to be the lost drachma found by Christ or not. Christ is looking for us. Are we going to hide from him, or let ourselves be found by Him before death hides us from Him, from the world and from life?

It is a vital question and it lies within our will to accept or reject Him. After death it will cease to be an open question, and then no one will expect an answer from us.


Three Measures of Flour


And again Jesus said, To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour till the whole was leavened (Luke 13:20-21).


This is another of Christ's mysterious parables that many find hard to understand. The actual theme taken from everyday life is simple and clear. From the earliest times housewives have been bakers; they take flour, put it in bowls, prepare leaven, knead the dough and bake it. It has been the daily task of the housewife in East and West for thousands of years. But it occurred to no one to take this simple work as a figure or symbol of the Kingdom of God. Only the Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom nothing was too simple or unimportant, took this familiar chore and used it to explain something stupendous and extraordinary. He could picture to Himself His own mother at work.


I will put the following questions to the reader of the Gospel. Why did Christ take woman as His example, instead of man, when men have been bakers throughout the centuries? And why the leaven, when unleavened bread was also commonly used? And why did the woman take three measures, and not one or two or four? Finally, what connection or similarity is there between the reign of God and the kitchen work of a housewife?

If these questions cannot be answered, how can we understand the parable? Yet to answer them without a spiritual key would only lead to further difficulties. All the parables deal with the superficial, but their real meaning lies deep down. They appeal to the eye and seem obvious enough, but they concern the spirit and the spiritual.


This parable has a twofold spiritual interpretation. The first has to do with the three principal races of mankind, the second with the three main faculties or powers of the human soul. In brief, what is outstanding and unusual in this parable is the historical and personal process of man's salvation.


After the Great Flood, there stemmed from the sons of Noah-Shem, Ham and Japheth-three races of mankind, the Semites, Chemites and Japhetites. These are the three measures of flour into which Christ puts His heavenly leaven-the Holy Spirit. That means He came as Messiah and Saviour to all the races and nations of mankind without exception. Just as with leaven a woman can transform natural flour into bread, so Christ, through the Holy Spirit, transforms natural men into the children of God, into immortal inhabitants of the Heavenly Kingdom. That is why, according to Orthodox teaching, holy men are called earthly angels or heavenly men, because, being "leavened" by the Holy Spirit, they are no longer common flour or unleavened biscuits that lie on the earth, but they are leavened bread that has risen. According to the Bible, unleavened bread was the bread of slaves while leavened bread was for free men, God's children. So for that reason the Orthodox Church uses leavened bread at Holy Communion. The process of leavening began on that first Trinity Sunday or Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven onto the apostles. From that day forth this process has continued down to the present day, and it will continue till the end of time when all will be leavened. This, then, is the historical interpretation of the enigmatic parable about the woman baker. The second interpretation is psychological and personal, and concerns the three main faculties or powers of the human soul: intellect, heart and will, or, in other words, the power to think, the power to feel and the power to act. These are the three unseen measures of the soul of the inner man. These three powers either remain totally unleavened, like the bread of slaves, or they are leavened with the leaven of malice and hypocrisy. Therefore, Christ told His disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy, because that is the worldly and human leaven, which weakens all the powers of the soul and leaves it crippled and sick. But Christ the Saviour brought to earth a new leaven to raise the powers of the soul. Those who receive this new heavenly leaven through Baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity are called the sons and daughters of God, the heirs of the eternal Kingdom. They will not die, for even when they leave the body, they will be alive and will live for ever. This heavenly leaven fills them with the light of reason, the warmth of divine love and the glory of good works. All three powers of the soul grow together in harmony, and ascend to heaven, to perfection. As the Lord said, Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Woman has been taken as paragon and not man, and Christ has compared Himself to a woman baker, because woman as wife and mother prepares bread for the family in a loving manner, whereas the man baker bakes bread to sell for gain. Everything that Christ has done for mankind was done out of pure love, and therefore He compares Himself to a woman baker. This is the second interpretation, but both interpretations of this parable are correct. The historical and the psychological meaning derived from this simple parable is like a branching oak that grows out of an acorn, for it is truly majestic in its historical breadth and profound in its psychological depth.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich

(Reprinted from Orthodox Life, 1951, Nos. 5 and 6)
http://tokandylaki.blogspot.ca/2014/05/the-ten-drachmas-lord-in-guise-of-woman.html#more

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The 4 key necessities for Spiritual warfare




Saint Hesychius give this advice on our struggle to overcome the passions:


One who is engaged in the spiritual struggle must have at every moment the following four things: humility, extreme attentiveness, refutation (of the thoughts) and prayer.


Humility, in so far as its adversaries in combat are the demons of pride, so that he will have at hand Christ's help in his heart, for ' the Lord resists the proud.' (James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5)





Attentiveness, so that one does not allow the heart to have any thought, no matter how good it seems.




Denial, so that as soon as one has detected a thought that has come, he may repulse it immediately with anger.




Prayer, so that after refuting a thought, one may immediately cry out to Christ with 'groanings which cannot be uttered' (Romans 8:26) Then the ascetic will see the enemy bound or chased by the honorable name of Jesus, like dust by the wind, or like smoke that vanishes with it's dreams.Saint Hesychius adds the following on the importance of prayer,

One who does not have prayer that is free from the thoughts is without a weapon for battle. I understand prayer to be that which is carried unceasingly within the depths of the soul, so that the enemy who is secretly fighting may be vanquished and scorched by this invocation to Christ. For you must look with the sharply focused eye of the mind so that you will recognize what has entered into it, and after doing so, immediately cut off the head of the snake through refutation, and at the same time call on Christ with groaning. Through experience you will come to know God's invisible help; then you will see clearly the true condition of the heart.

Saint Theophan advises in his commentary on the teaching of Saint Hesychius,

A person whose decision to belong to the Lord is sincere cannot by-pass the path described. He may preform great labors and get around things in various ways, but until he comes upon this path, it is to no purpose. I am pointing you directly to the path so that you do not wander all over the place. Be more diligent in your undertaking, and you will find success. However, you must labor with all your might, because without labor there will be nothing.

Reference: The Spiritual LIfe, pp 249-253

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Living a Christian life ( Saint John of Kronstadt )



In order to live a Christian life and sustain the spirit within us, private and communal prayers are essential. Just as it is necessary to add oil to an image-lamp so that it does not go out, so is it essential to attend church services and pray there with faith, understanding and fervor. Because through self-restraint a prayer becomes more sincere and fervent, it is necessary to live in moderation and to fast. Nothing extinguishes the spirit within us as quickly as immoderation, overindulgence and a dissipated way of life.

Saint John of Kronstadt

Christian Man vs. Secular Man : Their differences



The Secular Man has been the great threat to the Christian faith over the past two or more centuries. Disguised as the person is only only doing the “normal thing,” he lives in a godless world, where others can be tempted to live as though there were no God. Earlier I quoted Berdyaev, “If God does not exist, then man does not exist.” I would add to that that the God Who Exists must be everywhere present and filling all things, or He is no God and a false god. Let us renounce the “soft atheism” of the secular man and live always and everywhere for God.

Many Orthodox writers have spoken about the nature of the secular world, the defining form of modernity. I take here an opportunity to make a small comparison between the secular man and the Christian.

The secular man may believe that there is a God, but he also believes that the situation and outcome of the world are dependent upon the actions of human beings.

The Christian man believes that there is a God, and that all things are in His hands.

The secular man believes in Progress. Life changes, and with good human direction, it changes for the better. Every new discovery stands on the shoulders of every previous discovery. In this way, life improves and always improves for the better.

The Christian man believes that whatever man does may change his circumstances, but does not change man. A modern man is in no way superior to those who came before him. Goodness is not a result of progress.

The secular man believes in the power of human beings. Reason, applied reasonably to any situation, will yield a better outcome.

The Christian man believes in God, but he doubts the goodness of man. Human solutions are always questionable and capable of failure.

The secular man believes, ultimately, in the smooth path of progress. Even though there may be set-backs along the way, he believes that pursuing the path of progress will ultimately yield a better world – even a near perfect world.

Because the Christian man believes in God, he trusts that the outcome of history belongs to God and not to man. Thus, even the good things done by man are judged by a good God whose goal for us is always beyond anything we could ask or think.

The secular man, despite various failures, always believes that the next good is only another plan away. Compromise, negotiation, and a willingness to change will finally solve all problems.

The Christian understands the sinfulness of humanity. He knows that without God things will always fail and dissipate. Only through trust and obedience to God can the human situation improve – and such improvement always comes as a miracle from God.

The secular man does not believe in his own fallibility. He does not learn from history, but yearns repeatedly for a success where none has come before. What success he has known (in medical treatment of disease, etc.) is quickly translated into political terms. What is wrong politically can be eradicated as easily as malaria.

The Christian man knows that problems do not lie so much in the world as within himself. Unless man is changed by a good God, there will be a very limited goodness in the world. The secular man knows how to cure malaria, but he cannot manage to actually share that goodness with the world. The world (the third world) dies as it has always died. The secular man is powerless because he lacks true goodness.

The Christian man is largely marginalized in our modern world. He is considered an artifact of the past. However he is not a religious artifact – the truth he knows is eternal and is as applicable to the ills of the world as any part of the truth of God.

It is for this generation to understand what it means to be a Christian man and not to compromise with the secular man. God is good and wills good for all people. He is not a utilitarian, wishing the greatest good for the greatest number, but willing good for each and every soul.

May Christians be visible everywhere, and everywhere loyal to the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

How is TV damaging to the soul of kids.. ( St.Paisios )

Television has done us great damage. It's especially destructive for children. A seven-year-old child came to the hermitage once. I saw the demon of television speaking through the child's mouth, exactly as demons speak through the mouth of the possessed. It was like a baby born with teeth. It is not easy to find normal kids; they are turning into little monsters. And you see they don't get to think for themselves, they only repeat what they have heard and seen on television. That's why they have come up with television to begin with: to make people numb and dumb, so that they will take what they hear and see on television for a fact and act accordingly.

St. Paisios

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Ninth Beatitude- Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.



In the last, the ninth commandment, our Lord Jesus Christ calls especially blessed those who for the sake of Christ and for the true Orthodox faith in Him, patiently bear disgrace, persecution, malice, defamation, mockery, privation and even death. Such a spiritual feat is known as martyrdom. There is no higher spiritual feat than martyrdom.

The courage of Christian martyrs must be distinguished from fanaticism, which is irrational zeal not according to reason. Christian courage must also be distinguished from the lack of feeling brought on by despair or pretended indifference, with which some criminals because of their incorrigible hardness and pride, serve out their sentences and go to execution.

Christian courage is based on the highest of Christian virtues, on faith in God, on hope in God, on love for God and neighbor, on complete obedience and unshaken faith in the Lord God.

The highest form of martyrdom was suffered by Jesus Christ Himself, and in like manner, the Apostles and an innumerable multitude of Christians, who with joy went to martyrdom for the name of Christ.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, and looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weaned and faint in your minds (Heb. 12:1-3).

For the spiritual feat of martyrdom, the Lord promises a reward in Heaven. But here on earth the Lord glorifies many martyrs for their firm confession of faith with incorruptible bodies and miracles.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (I Pet. 4:14-16).

Numberless Christians martyrs rejoiced during unspeakable torture, accounts of which are preserved in factual accounts of lives of the Saints. Note: In Roman courts, special scribes were obligated to write protocols (official records) of judicial procedures and legal decisions. Such protocols of interrogations, made in Roman courts during the legal process of Christian martyrs, after the period of persecutions were carefully preserved by the Church. The protocols came to be trustworthy accounts of the feats of martyrdom of the Christians.

The Eighth Beatitude - Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

For righteousness’ sake, is meant to live righteously according to the commandments of God, and resolutely fulfilling Christian obligations. Persecuted — for their righteous and pious life, they suffer oppression, persecution, privation and adversity at the hands of the unrighteous enemies of truth and goodness, but nothing can cause them to waver from the truth.

Persecution is inevitable for Christians living according to the Gospel’s righteousness, because evil people detest righteousness, as truth exposes their evil deeds, and always persecute people who stand up for the truth. The Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, was Himself crucified by haters of God’s truth. For all His followers He predicted: // they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you (John 15:20). All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, says the Apostle Paul (II Tim. 3:12).

In order to endure persecution patiently for righteousness’ sake, a person must have love for the truth, be steadfast and firm in virtuous living, have courage and patience, and faith and hope in the help and protection of God.

To those persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for their struggles in confessing the truth, the Lord promises the Kingdom of Heaven, spiritual triumph, joy and blessedness in the heavenly dwellings of the future eternal life (see Luke 22:28-30).

The Second Coming of Our Lord ( Elder Cleopa )




By Elder Cleopa of Romania, from "The Truth of Our Faith," Ch. 15. 
 
Inquirer: Father, what can you tell us about the exact date of the Second Coming of Christ?

Elder Cleopa: Christ’s true Church provides us with a number of apt testimonies which show that God did not entrust this date to anyone, neither to angels, nor to men, nor even to His own Son as man.

Listen to the divine words of Scripture on the subject:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be ... Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Mt 24:36-51).

If neither the angels in heaven nor the Son of Man Himself as man know the appointed time, how is it possible for it to be known among men? From the words of the Saviour it is understood only that we must be ever vigilant and mindful of our salvation, ever ready for the coming of the Lord, for we know neither the day nor the hour of His coming, nor even the hour of our own end in this life. His appearance will be unexpected, as the Lord forewarned us when he said, Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh. (Mt 25:13).

Inquirer: It is true that at first the Apostles didn’t know the exact date of the Second Coming of the Saviour (Mt 24:36), however, from the time they were strengthened from on high at the descent of the Holy Spirit they were made aware of all. For, as the Saviour foretold, by the Holy Spirit all the mysteries were revealed: I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come. (Jn. 16:12-13). From the time of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the Apostles, as well as all faithful Christians, with the illumination and wisdom given them by the Holy Spirit, were made able to know all truth. In other words, they became aware of the entirety of the divine plan for the history of the world and its end, and thus were able to determine through Holy Scripture the events of the future, such as the date of the Second Coming. Isn’t such a determination possible?

Elder Cleopa: William Miller calculated that, according to Scripture, the Second Coming of Christ would take place between the first of March 1843 and the first of March 1844. He had announced this date as early as 1833 in the brochure "Prophecy from Holy Scripture of the Second Coming of the Lord in the year 1843." Another "prophet," Joseph Chimes, had proposed in the journals "The Voice of Midnight" (1842) and "The Bell of Danger" that the Lord would come in the year 1843.

The closest disciple of Miller, a Mr. Snow, decided to add to the prophecy of Miller another seven months and ten days, predetermining the date of the Second Coming of the Lord as the tenth of October 1844. He was also put to ridicule along with his teacher. Those who believed their pronouncements spent their fortunes, handing out all they had and buying white garments and candles in order to go out and meet the Lord.

It is possible that the shop windows were even filled then with white garments for those "travelling to heaven" on the tenth of October 1844. Yet, this day passed like all others. The so-called prophets became the recipients of every kind of shame, derision and mockery from those deluded people who had scattered their fortunes trusting in the false prophecies.

From these pitiful experiences we must at least come to understand that the promise of our Saviour Jesus Christ concerning the revelation of the future by the Holy Spirit did not refer to the date of the Second Coming, as it appeared to many, but rather to prophecies pertaining to various events and signs due to come to pass in the Church. For, indeed, there have been revelations through the Holy Spirit, as we see, for example, in the Book of Revelation and other books of Holy Scripture. These revelations contain a variety of eschatological teachings (on the appearance of the Antichrist, of the false prophets, the unleashing of the persecutions of Christians), as well as the indispensable wisdom of the Apostles which enabled them to present the divine teachings when they were led to give a defence before their accusers (Mt 10:19-20). These are the future events of which the Saviour speaks in the text that you read.

Inquirer: The Apostle Paul writes: But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. (1Thess 5:4-5). From these words it follows that Christians can and should know the exact date of the Second Coming in order to be ready to accept it.

Elder Cleopa: Why have you read from only verses four and five of chapter five from First Thessalonians, leaving out verses one and two which serve to interpret verses four and five? Listen to what the Apostle Paul says there: But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thess 5:1-2). This is the truth to which the Christ’s Church has remained faithful. The true Church teaches, equally with the Apostle Paul, that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night and that no one knows the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man will come.

It is possible only for the approach of the Second Coming to be known by the signs which must come before:

~ The preaching of the Gospel throughout the world. (Mt 24:15).

~ The turn of the Jews to Christianity after the preaching of the Gospel in the entire world. (2 Rom 11:25-34).

~ The appearance of the Antichrist, also called the man of iniquity or the beast, together with his representatives, pseudo-christs, false prophets, and every type of false wonder worked by the power of Satan in order to deceive the people. The Antichrist will sit in the place of God acting as if he were God and as an unrelenting beast he will pursue with all rage and furor the chosen servants of God. (1 Jn 2:18; 2Thess 2:3-11; Rev 13:1-8, 20:1-10; Mt 24:9).

~ The multiplication of wickedness and the growing cold of love between men, hatred and betrayal of one another. (Mt 24:10-12).

~ A torrent of bloodshed, wars and rumors of wars between nations, people and states. (Mt 24:6-7).

~ The appearance of calamities such as mass starvation, sicknesses, etc. (Mt 24:7-9).

~ The appearance of certain signs in the world such as the darkening of the sun and moon, the falling of stars from the sky, the passing away of heaven and earth.

~ The appearance in the heavens of the sign of the Son of Man, the True Cross, because this is the sign of victory of our Lord and no other sign so alerts us of His imminent arrival as does His Cross.

The Lord explains these signs thus: Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (Mt 24:32-33).

Therefore, concerning the signs that will precede the Second Coming of the Lord, we have explanations and confirmation from the Saviour Himself, while of the exact date of His coming neither the angels nor even the Son of Man Himself, as man, are informed, but the Father alone knows.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Evil starts with bad thoughts... ( St. Porphyrios )

Evil starts with bad thoughts. When you are bitter and angry, if only by thinking, you are spoiling the spiritual atmosphere. You prevent the Holy Spirit from acting and allow the devil to grow up evil. You should always pray, love and forgive, driving away from you every evil account.
 
St. Porphyrios

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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.

You love it when an earthly king writes you a letter, and you read it with love and joy. How much more must we read the letter of the Heavenly King with love and joy.

The word of God was not given to you so that it should lay written only on paper, but so that we may use it spiritually, that we may be enlightened and guided in the true way and salvation, that our morals may be corrected, and that we may live according to its rule in this world, and that we may please God. If you wish, therefore, to be a true Christian, then without fail you must take care to live by its rule. For the word of God is a heavenly seed. It must, then, yield fruit in us after its kind, that is a holy and heavenly life, otherwise it will accuse us on the day of the fearful Judgement of Christ. Live, therefore, as the word of God teaches, and then correct yourself. Do not pry idly into the mysteries.

Of the mystery of the All-Holy Trinity, the Most-Holy Eucharist, and other such things that are not revealed to us in the holy word of God, do not inquire idly, lest you fall into the snare of the devil and be tangled in it, and not be able to escape from thence, and so perish. For that which requires faith alone transcends our reasoning, and it is very dangerous to pry into these things. Keep yourself, then, from prying into things which are above you. Believe in all things as the Holy Scriptures teach, and as the Holy Church believes and establishes in accordance with it.


Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

Saturday, November 25, 2017

How do you know whether you are living according to the will of God? ( Saint Silouan the Athonite )

How do you know whether you are living according to the will of God?
Here is a sign: if you long for some thing, then you have not submitted to the will of God, even though you may think that you live according to His will. Whoever lives according to the will of God does not concern himself with anything. And if he needs some thing, then he submits himself and that thing to God; and if he does not receive it, then he remains content as though he had received it. 
The soul which has submitted to the will of God, fears nothing: neither storm nor bandits; nothing. And whatever should happen, it says, "It is God’s will." If the body is ill, the soul thinks, "Then I am in need of this illness, otherwise God would not have given it to me." And so the body and the soul remain at peace.

Saint Silouan the Athonite

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Repent my brother, Repent ! ( St. John Maximovitch )

 When we are immersed in sins, and our mind is occupied solely with worldly cares, we do not notice the state of our soul. We are indifferent to who we are inwardly, and we persist along a false path without being aware of it.

But then a ray of God's Light penetrates our soul. And what filth we see in ourselves! How much untruth, how much falsehood! How hideous many of our actions prove to be, which we fancied to be so wonderful. And it becomes clear to us which is the true path.

If we then recognize our spiritual nothingness, our sinfulness, and earnestly desire our amendment - we are near to salvation. From the depths of our soul we shall cry out to God: "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy according to Thy mercy!" "Forgive me and save me!" "Grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother!"

St.John Maximovitch

Saint Catherine and the Smart Impious

What are we to make of Saint Catherine? We know really very little about her. Even her name is a mystery. According to some, she was originally called Damiani (by a happy coincidence the present Archbishop of Sinai and Abbot of the Monastery of Saint Katherine is called Damianos), although Rufinus claims that she was called Dorothea. At some stage, she became known as Katherine, but what this means is anyone’s guess. It has been derived from the Greek Hecate, or from καθαρός (katharos), meaning “pure” (as well as from Armenian and Arabic).


Saint Catherine, Mount Sinai, 13th Century

This confusion is central to one part of our argument. Her name in Greek is Αἰκατερίνα, so it is impossible that it derives from Hecate. The Greek system of diacritics was more than likely introduced in Alexandria (where Saint Katherine was born) and has “breathings” or signs of aspiration. To put it simply, there is no ‘H’ in Aikaterina (though there is in Hypatia, of whom more later). Likewise, it cannot derive from “katharos”. Greeks are perfectly capable of saying ‘th’, so the name would have ‘th’ rather than ‘t’ in the middle (in Greek). Apart from this, katharina would make absolutely no sense grammatically. If it means “pure”, the name would be “Kathari”; if it means “purified” it would be “Kekatharmeni”. The point I would like to make here is that it is generally agreed that the young girl’s name was Aikaterina and that speculating and inventing implausible etymologies serves no purpose. The same is true of her Life.

The traditional narrative states that Katherine was the beautiful daughter of the pagan Costus (or Cestus) and Sabinella, who governed Alexandria. She was highly intelligent and diligently studied the arts and sciences, especially philosophy. Having decided to remain a virgin, she announced that she would only marry someone who surpassed her in beauty, intelligence, wealth, and dignity, perhaps an early foreshadowing of her eventual discovery of Christ: “His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world”. Raised a pagan (though her mother may have been a secret Christian), she became an ardent Christian in her teenage years, having received a vision in which the the Mother of God pledged her to Christ in mystical marriage.

As a young adult, about 18 years old according to what sources we have, she upbraided the Roman Emperor Maxentius (later defeated by Saint Constantine at the battle of the Milvian Bridge) who happened to be in Alexandria at the time of a pagan feast, attempting to convince him of his error in persecuting Christians. The emperor seems to have been quite taken with her: Eusebius, writing very shortly after the events took place, says that Maxentius wanted to take the beautiful young girl into his palace as a concubine, but she refused.

The emperor then arranged for a number of the best pagan philosophers and orators in the city to argue with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Katherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death. An interesting footnote here is that in the hymn to Saint Katherine in the Orthodox Church, her opponents are described as “smart”. In Modern Greek and British English this means well-dressed; in Byzantine Greek and American English it means “clever”.

Maxentius went off to inspect his troops, having first ordered that Katherine be imprisoned. When he returned, he was greatly displeased to find that some of his household had been influenced by her and had converted to Christianity. Katherine was sentenced to be tortured on a spiked wheel, which did not kill her, and she was then beheaded, in the year 305.

None of this seems out of place. We know that Maxentius was, indeed, a co-emperor at that time, that he had firm support in North Africa (his severed head was sent there after his defeat to convince his supporters that he really was dead) and that Christians were being persecuted then: Saint Dimitrios was martyred in Thessaloniki in the same year and Saint George two years earlier in Nicomedia, so the persecution was very widespread. We also know that Alexandria was a centre of learning and that Hypatia, a woman of great intellectual gifts, was killed there by a Christian mob in 415 AD. Or do we?

The actual evidence of the existence of Hypatia is no more compelling than that for Saint Katherine, yet she is accorded something akin to cult status today, with a film being made about her (Agora, starring Rachel Weisz) while Saint Katherine is “air-brushed” out of the picture. In The Penguin Book of Saints, Donald Attwater declares that the “legend” of Saint Katherine is “the most preposterous of its kind”. Well, of course it is if you read the barnacles that adhered to it over the centuries, but they do not invalidate the basic truth.

In the same vein, Christine Walsh says in her book The Cult of St Katherine of Alexandria in Early Medieval Europe (Ashgate 2007) that: “As we have seen [!], the cult of St. Katherine of Alexandria probably originated in oral traditions from the 4th-century Diocletianic Persecutions of Christians in Alexandria. There is no evidence that Katherine herself was a historical figure and she may well have been a composite drawn from memories of women persecuted for their faith. Many aspects of her Passio are clearly legendary and conform to well-known hagiographical topoi”. What on earth does this mean?

Of course the cult of Saint Katherine originated in oral tradition. Nobody was there with a mobile phone to take a video. “And she may well have been a composite”; and she may not. “Many aspects of her Passio are clearly legendary and conform to well-known hagiographical topoi”. Does this mean that many martyrs were tortured and died for the faith? No argument with that. Read the life of Elder Païsios, a saintly figure of our own times. It could easily be rendered in a way that makes it sound “hagiographical” (“He was born to pious parents and baptized by Saint Arsenios, who foresaw his future as a monk”), but it is still true.

Another aspect worth recalling is that people express themselves differently in different ages. There is a version of the martyrdom which states that when Saint Katherine was stretched on the wheel with spikes, it was not blood which flowed but milk. It may be that some innocent- in the best sense of the word- people believed this, but most people at the time would have understood it as meaning that she was untainted. This may seem far-fetched, but in a thousand years hence, “scholars” may well be amazed that people in 2013 could talk about “the milk of human kindness”. It might also be mentioned that another modern icon, Joan of Arc, mentions Saint Katherine as having appeared to her to lend her strength, and this was a thousand years and more after the martyrdom.

In his article “The Dragon that Swallowed Saint George”, Whittall Perry says: “The ancient church authorities may have been ‘primitive’ by our lights, but they were not imbeciles”. The ancient Church authorities were scrupulous in weeding out spurious information that would injure the faith. For some reason, North Africa seems to have been a hotbed of heresy and schism. Yet the story of a young woman who dared to oppose an emperor and his minions with her learning, strength of character and faith, and triumph over them in martyrdom, was accepted as true. May her prayers be with us.

Dismissal Hymn:

Let us praise the renowned bride of Christ, Katherine the divine, protectress of Sinai, our aid and assistance. For she brilliantly silenced the clever impious by the sword of the Spirit, and now, crowned as a martyr, petitions for great mercy for all. 
 
http://pemptousia.com/2014/11/saint-katherine-and-the-smart-impious/

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My heart is hard like a stone….. ( St. Paisios )

    - Elder, when I feel my heart become hard like  a stone, what should I do?


- Your problem is not a hard heart but a mind-driven heart. Your entire heart has been taken over by your mind and is now at its service. But there is still a chance for your heart to go back. Each day you must read prayers to the Theotokos. If you want your heart to get back in shape, that’s the best medicine. You do have a heart, but it has been clouded by “logic”…. Things are different in the spiritual life. What is needed is simplicity. Act with simplicity and trust in God.

- How can I become simple, Elder? – I shall have to open your head and put an old-fashioned mind in it!
You need to enter the simple world of the Saints, and get to know the spiritual science which lifts and refreshes the soul, and gets rid of headaches. “Logic” will make us suffer. For example, I say to myself, ‘This must be done in this specific manner,’ and so I go ahead and do it because it has to be done. I don’t do it with my heart but because the mind dictates it. Logic and courtesy may tell me that ‘I must surrender my seat,’ but my heart will not. Think of the difference when my heart is moved and I surrender my seat out of love. I feel such joy!

- Elder, I don’t have a heart.

- You do have a heart, but as soon as it tries to act, your mind puts a muzzle on it. You must try to acquire the logic of the heart, faith and love.

- How can I achieve this? – The first step: go down town to Thessaloniki and March barefoot in protest, so that people will say that you went mad; this way you will get rid of your mind!!! Blessed soul! You approach everything with mathematical exactness. What are you, an astronomer? If you stop thinking “logically”, you will be able to start working spiritually on yourself.

“The Holy Fathers saw everything with the spiritual, the divine eye. Patristic tests were written in the spirit of God and it was in the spirit of God that the Holy Fathers gave their interpretations. Today this spirit is lacking and Patristic texts are hard to understand. People see everything with secular eyes and cannot see beyond that; they do not have the breadth of spirit that results form faith and love.”

St. Paisios

Friday, November 17, 2017

Christians should spend the eves of feast days in prayer... ( St. John Maximovitch )

The holy canons dictate that Christians should spend the eves of feast days in prayer and with reverence in preparation for participation or attendance at the Divine Liturgy.
 
 If all Orthodox Christians are called to this, then this pertains all the more to those who take an active part in the church services itself. Their participation in diversions on the eve of a feast day is especially sinful. 
 
In view of the above, those who attend a dance or similar form of entertainment and diversion may not participate in the choir the next day, may not serve in the altar, enter the altar or stand on the cliros.

St. John Maximovitch

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The priest is not the representative of God on earth, he is the servant of God!

During his traditional pilgrimage to Mount Athos on his birthday, Metropolitan Kyiv Onuphre met the abbott of Dochiariou, Archimandrite Gregory (Zoumis), in his monastery. He is one of the most respected Athonite fathers, known largely beyond Mount Athos. 
 
Archimandrite Gregory said, "We pastors are poor and the people are obedient! Thank you [i.e. Metropolitan Onuphre] because, by your simplicity, your humble clothes, you show the way of God. We, those who wear the cassock, must be attentive. The cassock is a cross. It is the standard of Christ. Christ left no other standard, except the cassock. Love it, monks, priests and bishops! It's not fair that the bishop wears cufflinks, while people are poor, they save on bread. And never those who wear the cassock believe that they are the representatives of God on the earth! The pope believed he was the representative of God on earth - and the West drowned. 
 
Many times I have heard the priests say, "I am the representative of God on earth! You are not the representative, but the servant of God here on earth. Each time, when you ordain priests, say: from this day on, you are not the representative of God on earth, but His servant. 
 
How horrible, when priests consider themselves the representatives of God on earth! Would I be a representative of God on earth? My face, my presence, do they agree with that? Of course not ! I am a servant, a bad servant, a bad worker of His vineyard. 
 
The old Amphiloque of Patmos said: "Every night, think: today, I may have scandalized someone! Perhaps, my life has made someone leave the Church! That's the control we have to do all of us wearing the cassock. Let us spiritually fight as confessors and not as holders of power.

Friday, November 10, 2017

It is one thing to belief that God exists and another to know Him. ( St. Silouan the Athonite )


No matter how much we may study, it is not possible to come to know God unless we live according to His commandments, for God is not know by science, but by the Holy Spirit. 
Many philosophers and learned men came to the belief that God exists, but they did not know God. It is one thing to belief that God exists and another to know Him. 
If someone has come to know God by the Holy Spirit, his soul will burn with love for God day and night, and his soul cannot be bound to any earthly thing. 

St. Silouan the Athonite

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Prayer to Archangel Michael


O Lord God, Great and Eternal King! Send, O Lord, Thy Archangel Michael to help Thy servant (name), and to deliver me from all my enemies, visible and invisible.
O Archangel Michael, angel of the Lord and vanquisher of demons! Suppress all my combatants, make them meek as sheep, and disperse them like dust before the wind.


O great Michael, Archangel of the Lord, six-winged high prince, leader of the heavenly host, the Cherubim and the Seraphim! O kind Archangel Michael, be my helper in all offenses, sorrows and woes, in the desert, at the crossroads, be a safe haven on rivers and seas. Deliver me, O great Archangel Michael, from all the temptations of the demons, when they hear me, thy sinful servant (name), praying to thee, and calling upon thee, and entreating thy holy name: hasten to assist me and heed my prayer.

O great Archangel Michael! Vanquish all my opponents by the power of the Holy and Life-giving Heavenly Cross of the Lord, by the prayers of the Most-holy Theotokos and the holy apostles, the holy prophet of God Elias, Saint Nicholas the wonder worker, Saint Andrew the fool-for-Christ, the holy great martyrs Nikitas and Eustace, the venerable fathers and holy hierarchs, martyrs, and all the heavenly host. Amen.

Whosoever reads this ancient prayer – on that day will he be touched neither by the devil, nor by any evil man, nor will any temptation seduce his heart. If he should pass from this life – hell will not take in his soul.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

We call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.. ( St. Paisios )

“Give thanks to God for everything. Try to be manly. Pull yourself together a bit. Do you know what Christians are suffering in other countries? There are such difficulties in Russia! But here many exhibit indifference. There’s not enough disposition to kindness, love of devotion. You see, if we don’t begin to make war against evil, to expose those who tempt believers, then the evil will grow larger. If we throw aside fear then the faithful will be emboldened a bit. And those who wage war against the Church will have a harder time. 
In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.”

St. Paisios

Monday, October 30, 2017

We must be happy with what God gives us...( St. Silouan the Athonite )


A certain hunter greatly enjoyed roaming through forests and plains in search of wild game. One day while hunting, after walking for a long time up a high mountain, he became tired and sat to rest
on a large boulder. As he was sitting there, he noticed a flock of birds flying from one mountain
peak to another, and he thought, “Why didn’t God give wings to man, so he can also fly?”
 
At that moment, a humble hermit happened to be walking by that same area. Having perceived the hunter’s thoughts, he turned to him and said, “You are wondering why God did not give you wings? 

 Let’s say that He gives you wings; you will still not be satisfied but will say, ‘My wings are weak and with them I cannot ascend up to heaven to see what exists there.’ And if you are given wings strong enough to ascend into heaven, even then you will be unsatisfied and you will say, ‘I don’t understand what is happening here.’ And if you are granted such understanding, again you
will not be content, and you will question, ‘Why am I not an angel?’ And if they make you an angel, even then you will be displeased and you will say, ‘Why am I not a Cherubim?’ And if you were to become a Cherubim, then you will say, ‘Why doesn’t God allow me to govern Heaven?’ And if you are given authority to rule over Heaven, even then you will not be content, and
as someone else did [i.e. Lucifer] you will indignantly ask for more things. 
 
This is why you should always humble yourself and be happy with whatever is given to you, and then you will dwell with God.”
The hunter realized that the hermit had spoken
the truth, and he thanked God for sending this elder to correct him and teach him the way of
humility.

St. Silouan the Athonite

http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Time is Money ( Elder Ephraim of Arizona )


Time is the currency with which we acquire eternity. The ancients would say, “time is money.”
Indeed, time is a currency of incalculable value. We do not need even one dollar to purchase eternity; all we need is one minute. How did the thief on the cross acquire Paradise? He did so with one minute. Actually, it took him less than a minute to confess Jesus Christ, to seek His mercy, and to utter with sincere repentance, “Remember me, O Lord, in Your Kingdom.” This is why the Apostle Paul exclaims, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”(Eph. 5:15-16). Behold, the greatest purchase of all time! Let us rush to acquire Paradise. We have the means. It will be the best investment of our life, because Paradise is forever.
Ioasaf, who went on to become a saint of our Orthodox Church, was the son of the King of India. Saint Barlaam instructed him in the Christian faith and baptized him. One of the many things Righteous Barlaam taught him was the following:
“In a certain land, the citizens had the custom of electing as their king a foreigner who would come
to visit their city.
The unsuspecting visitor would accept their offer because he was unaware of their customs and practices. They would crown the visitor and enthrone him king for a certain period of time, only to dethrone him a short time later , without a warning and exile him to a desolate region. Since
they never revealed to the stranger that within
six months to a year they would strip him of his regal title and send him into exile, the visitor ruled the land assuming that he would reign forever,
until the end of his life. The thought of exile would never even cross his mind, and, unmindful
of the citizens’ intent to banish him, he never
prepared for such a calamity.
During one such trip to the city by a particular visitor, a good and virtuous citizen who saw
the foreigner approached him and told him in secret, “My fellow countrymen who dwell in this city are planning to make you a king. You should
realize, however, that after a short period of time they will exile you. So, now when you become king and while you have all the goods accessible to you, see to it that you send food, provisions,
and other useful items to that deserted region, so that when they banish you to that land you will
have them there waiting for you, and you will be able to live comfortably.”
“Oh! Thank you very much for telling me,”replied the guest.
Indeed, by following the advice of that good citizen, this man sent an abundance of provisions to the land of exile. And so, when the time came and the citizens banished him, he went their gladly
and henceforth lived comfortably, because he had sent many goods there beforehand.
“Similarly,” explained St. Barlaam to Ioasaph, “Man comes into this present life, and, fooled by the world, he believes that he will reign and live many years; death, however, appears unexpectedly
and sends him to eternity. The Church, as
another good citizen, comes to advise man and points out to him, “Look, you are not going to be here very long. You will depart for the next life which is eternal.
Make sure, now that you are here and capable, to do good works and send them there to the next life. Thus, when you die and the world ejects you from the earth, you will find these items there. God will repay you thousand times over, and you will henceforth live joyfully.”
The time of our present life is the opportunity to sow. Eternity is the time of harvest. Tell me what you sow, and I will tell you what you will reap. Do you sow faith, love, and tears of effort and repentance? You will reap the joy of eternal
Paradise. The Lord confirms this:
“You shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit
eternal life”(Mt. 19:29).

St. Paul also emphasizes this in his epistle to
the Corinthians: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2Cor. 4:17).

Elder Ephraim of Arizona 
 
http://www.stnektariosmonastery.org/

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Never has there been such an age of false teachers . . ( Fr. Seraphim Rose )

“Never has there been such an age of false teachers as this pitiful twentieth century, so rich in material gadgets and so poor in mind and soul. Every conceivable opinion, even the most absurd, even those hitherto rejected by the universal consent of all civilized peoples — now has its platform and its own ‘teacher.’ A few of these teachers come with demonstration or promise of ‘spiritual power’ and false miracles, as do some occultists and ‘charismatics’; but most of the contemporary teachers offer no more than a weak concoction of undigested ideas which they receive ‘out of the air,’ as it were, or from some modern self-appointed ‘wise man’ (Or woman) who knows more than all the ancients merely by living in our ‘enlightened’ modern times. As a result, philosophy has a thousand schools, and ‘Christianity’ a thousand sects. Where is the truth to be found in all this, if indeed it is to found at all in our most misguided times?

In only one place is there to be found the fount of true teaching, coming from God Himself, not diminished over the centuries but ever fresh, being one and the same in all those who truly teach it, leading those who follow it to eternal salvation. This place is the Orthodox Church of Christ, the fount is the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, and the true teachers of the Divine doctrine that issues from this fount are the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church.”

Fr. Seraphim Rose

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bear the offense in silence... ( St. Simeon the New Theologian )

He, who grieves sorely in his heart when dishonored or offended by others, ought to know from this that he bears within himself the ancient serpent. If he will bear the offense in silence, or will answer the one offending him with deep humility, then he has thereby weakened and crushed this serpent.
 
 St. Simeon the New Theologian

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A Christian must be courteous to all. . . .( St. Nektarios )


A Christian must be courteous to all. His words and deeds should breath with the grace of the Holy Spirit, which abides in his soul, so that in this way he might glorify the name of God. He who regulates all of his speech also regulates all of his actions. He who keeps watch over the words he is about say also keeps watch over the deeds he intends to do, and he never goes out of the bounds good and benevolent conduct. The graceful speech of a Christian is characterized by delicateness and politeness. This fact, born of love, produces peace and joy. On the other hand, boorishness gives birth to hatred, enmity, affliction, competitiveness, disorder and wars.
St. Nektarios of Aegina

Saturday, September 30, 2017

It is unfortunate that in our days we don't use freedom to do good and become holy; instead, we use freedom to become more secular ( St. Paisios )


It is unfortunate that in our days we don't use freedom to do good and become holy; instead, we use freedom to become more secular. In the past, people would work all week and rest on Sunday, a holy day. Now, they rest on Saturday as well. But are their lives more spiritual? Or are they more sinful? If people spent their time on spiritual work (prayer, spiritual study and so forth), things could have been different; people would live more conservative and decent lives. But we poor human beings try to rob time from the spiritual things, from Christ. People who live in the world will arrange to do all their heavy chores on Sundays. They are trying to find one Sunday for this chore, a holy day for another, and that's how they bring God's wrath on themselves. Why would the Saints then come to their assistance? Turn Sunday into a chore day? Never! Even if others offer to help us on that day, we should never accept it. Not on a Sunday.

We will not allow God to be in charge. And so, everything that we do without faith in God has nothing to do with Him; it belongs to the world. It does not have His blessing and for this reason the outcome is never good. When this happens we like to say, "It's the devil's fault." Well, not really. It's not the devil's fault but ours, for not letting God help us. When we work on holy days, we give the devil rights and then he gets involved in our affairs. The Psalm reads, Better is a little that the right eons has than the abundance of many wicked.  This is the kind of life that will receive a blessing. The rest is as worthy as shavings. But in order to live this way, we must have faith, philotimo and reverence, and put God in charge of our lives. Otherwise, we'll never get the job right whether it is on holy days or on week days and we'll end up spending our time on nonsense. And you'll see that God will never abandon you. I have never worked on a Sunday or a feast day, and God has never left my side and has always blessed my work.

I remember once, some threshing machines were brought to the village, and my father was notified that they could start on Sunday from our fields, and then move downhill to other lots. My father said to me, "What should we do? The machines are here." "There is no way I will work on Sunday," I replied. "We can do it on Monday." "But," my father objected, "if we miss this opportunity, we'll have such a hard time threshing with the horses." "That's fine with me," I said. "If I have to, I'll be threshing all the way to Christmas." So, I went to Church anyway, without giving the matter any more thought. Well, as the machines started coming toward our field, they broke down. "Forgive us, but the machines won't work. We'll take them to Yiannena and fix them, and when we come back on Monday, you will be first in line"! So instead of threshing on Sunday, they ended up threshing on Monday. I've seen this kind of thing happen so many times. 
 
St. Paisios