Monday, July 22, 2013

WE MUST ENDURE LIFE'S DIFFICULTIES WITH JOY (PART 2)—from the book The Salvation of Sinners—

It is truly foolish for us to flee from sorrow—
because the more we try to avoid sorrow and suffering, the more they overpower us. Conversely, when we greet difficulties and sorrows with joy,
they become frail and collapse before us, just as when Christ voluntarily proceeded to meet His enemies:“When Jesus went forth and said unto them, ‘Whom seek ye?’ they answered, ‘Jesus of
Nazareth.’ Jesus then said unto them, ‘I am He.’
As soon as He said ‘I am He,’ they went backward and fell to the ground” (Jn. 18:4-6).

We can actually experience the joy of Paradise when we find ourselves nailed to the cross of sorrows, if we thank God in times of difficulty and confess that we deserve to suffer, just as the good thief did while hanging on the cross.

He acknowledged Christ as the Lord and rebuked the other thief, “Dost not thou fear God? We indeed suffer justly, for we receive the due reward of our
deeds” (Lk. 23:40-41).
Do you see the gratitude of this thief? People who love the Lord behave in the same manner. They realize that they are worthy of condemnation; however, as they hang from their cross they do not lose hope but rather professChrist
to be the Almighty God, and they beseech Him to be deemed worthy of entering His Heavenly Kingdom.

The more we patiently endure our cross, the lighter it becomes for us. If we carry our cross eagerly and joyfully, it will become a source of great delight, an
inseparable memory of our Savior, and a certain
hope of eternal life with in Paradise, as took place with the good thief, who heard these blessed words from the Lord: “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43)
An exceptional degree of perfection exists, indeed, when a person remains patiently affixed to the cross with determination for the love of God, and without
complaining to God or others that his cross is unbearable.
Blessed is the man who not only thanks the Lord in times of poverty, sickness, loss of his family members, and various other misfortunes, but also blesses and glorifies the Lord always—even when death itself approaches—, and joyfully embraces every cross for the love of God. Such a person resembles the holy martyrs who glorified the Lord as they were tortured on the cross and thanked Him for allowing them to die on account of His holy name.

O my beloved Christians: we find and acquire glory upon the Cross—not within pleasure and enjoyment!

Friends forever ....God's will....

One day, when I was a freshman in high school,

I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.

His name was Kyle.

It looked like he was carrying all of his books.

I thought to myself, ‘Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?

He must really be a nerd.’

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on…

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.

They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.

His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him…

He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes .

My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, ‘Those guys are jerks.’

They really should get lives.

‘ He looked at me and said, ‘Hey thanks!’

There was a big smile on his face.

It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.

I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.

As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now.

I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.

We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.

I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends .

He said yes.

We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.

I stopped him and said, ‘Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!

‘ He just laughed and handed me half the books.

Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.

When we were seniors we began to think about college.

Kyle decided on Georgetown and I was going to Duke.

I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.

He was going to be a doctor and I was going for business on a football scholarship.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class.

I teased him all the time about being a nerd.

He had to prepare a speech for graduation.

I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak .

Graduation day, I saw Kyle.

He looked great.

He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.

He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.

He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.

Boy, sometimes I was jealous!

Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.

So, I smacked him on the back and said, ‘Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!’

He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled…

‘ Thanks,’ he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began …

‘Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.

Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your friends…

I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.

I am going to tell you a story.’

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the first day we met.

He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.

He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.

He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

‘Thankfully, I was saved.

My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.’

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.

I saw his Mom and dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.

Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions.

With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.

For better or for worse.

God puts us all in each others lives to impact one another in some way.

Look for God in others.

Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.’

There is no beginning or end. Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift.

John the Hesychast of Romania

There have been people throughout history and across the world who have sustained themselves by God alone, having lived for years with neither food, shelter, nor clothing. We are far from the experience of such ascetics; however, stories of them reach us from time to time. The following account is a true story about an ascetic who lived alone in the forests of Romania until the 1950’s.

In the summer of 1945, I took my staff and went over the Mountain to Sihastria Monastery. I wanted to confess to Father Cleopas. When I crossed the ridge of the Mountain and had arrives at Sihastria Valley, at the edge of the clearing called ‘Trapeza’ there appeared before me the calm and holy face of an unknown hesychast. He was rather short of stature, with his head uncovered, dressed in a kind of long ryassa of wool, barefoot,.. and belted with a rope of hemp. He has neither a staff nor a bag, and in his hands he carried a prayer rope made by him from the hips of wild roses. He seemed to be waiting for me. When he saw me, he blessed me with both hands and said to me by name: “Father Theodulus, you’re going to Sihastria, to Father Cleopas? How many times have I also gone to Sihastria Monastery and stood in Church during the service, but no one saw me! I know that your holiness wishes to leave Agapia and go to Sihastria, but you shouldn’t go. Stay at Agapia Monastery and do your obedience there, since God did not send you to Agapia in vain. There is the salvation of your holiness!”

When I saw that he spoke to me by name and also knew my thoughts, a kind of fear and astonishment at first overwhelmed me, so that I was unable even to speak, especially because I didn’t know then who he was. But his words entered into my heart and filled me with great spiritual joy, such as I had never felt before. Then, taking courage, I asked him: “What is your name, Reverend Father, and how long have you lived in asceticism in these parts?”

“I am called John,” he answered me, “and I am from the Tighina region. I was Vicar Bishop in my youth. But, loving silence and prayer more, I left this high office, and hearing of the hermitages of Oltenia, in 1915 I came as a novice brother to Crasna Skete in Gorj County. The Abbot had me take care of the cattle of the skete. After some years he said to me: “Brother John, prepare yourself, because tonight we will make you a monk!” He wasn’t acquainted with my past life. Then I left everything and departed that night for the desert in the depths of the forest. Then hearing about the hesycasts in Maldavia, in 1920 I withdrew for good to the Sihla Mountains.”

After a short silence, the holy hesychast John added: “Father Theodulus, please bring me a packet of writing paper and a kilogram of ink.” “But what would you do with them, your holiness?” The good ascetic, however, pointing his hand to the branches of the fir trees said to me: “I only need nibs, for look how many pens God has given me!” “Where, exactly, and when should I bring you paper?” I asked him. “Don’t worry about that,” he answered, “the Lord takes care of everything!” “Your holiness, do you wish me to bring you also some dried bread or some other food?” “I don’t need anything, since, by the mercy of God, I have everything I need!” Then, kissing his hand, I said to him: “Bless me your holiness!” “May the Lord bless you, and forgive me!”

Therefore, when he had blessed me with both hands, I descended to the valley towards Sihastria, and he stood a moment leaning against a fir tree.. Then he disappeared like a dear into the depths of the forest and I say him no longer. An unspeakable joy rested in my soul. How many things would I not have liked to ask this great hesychast, but he didn’t want to disclose to me anything about his spiritual asceticism in the Sihla Mountains, nor even the place where he had his cave or earthen hut.”

After a month I took the knapsack on my back, and a staff, and went over the mountain towards Sihastria. I had business with Father Cleopas. On the road I prayed to meet the holy hesychast John so that I could give him the paper and ink. I also brought with me some dried bread for food. Who knows what he had to write! Perhaps some secret spiritual teachings; perhaps counsels about the Jesus Prayer, which he had acquired in his youth; perhaps some divine revelations; or perhaps about his own life.

When I reached Trapeza clearing, the holy hesychast John immediately appeared before me without my observing from which direction he had come. His face was white, luminous, and radiated a heavenly joy alien to ordinary men; and his heart overflowed with great peace and spiritual quiet. His body was covered by the same coarse clothing of wool, knit by his own hands. In his left hand he held a prayer rope of rose hips, and he always held his right hand on his chest as for prayer.

After I had kissed his hand and made a prostration to him, the holy John blessed me with both hands and kissed me on the forehead, and said to me: “Father Theodulus are you going to Sihastria? It is better for you to return to Agapia, since Father Cleopas, the abbot of Sihastria, is absent today. He was called to Neamt Monastery.” “Your holiness,” I said to him with emotion, “I brought you paper and ink. Here are also some nibs!” “Thank you Father Theodulus. I knew you would find them!” The he placed then in the knapsack which he had on his back. “I also brought you some food: bread, fruit, and a little wine.” “May God reward your love, Father Theodulus, but I don’t need anything, God takes care of me.”

I insisted in vain that he take something. He wouldn’t even look in the basket to see what I had brought him. But so as not to sadden me, the good soldier of Christ gave me this spiritual word:

“Father Theodulus, fasting is great profit for a monk. You should know that there are seven kinds of food for men, that is to say, seven degrees of fasting”

“A: Carnivores, who always eat meat. These are in the lowest degree of fasting, even if they sometimes restrain themselves from food. They are never able to advance in prayer.

“B: Lacto-vegetarians, who never eat meat, but only milk, cheese, eggs and all kinds of boiled vegetables. These are in the second degree of fasting, which is kept by Monks in coenobitic Monasteries and, very rarely, by laymen.

“C: Vegetarians, who eat only vegetables and boiled or raw legumes. This arrangement forms the third degree of fasting, and the most zealous monks of the common life keep it.

“D: Fruit-Eaters, who eat bread and uncooked fruits once a day, without otherwise ever tasting food. He who attains this degree of fasting is able to master his body and thoughts without difficulty and can advance rapidly on the path of prayer.

“E: Cereal-Eaters, comprise the fifth degree of fasting. To this degree belong monks – especially hesycasts and desert-dwellers – who eat once a day only black bread, cereals, and soaked grains of wheat, corn, millet, lentils, beans, peas, etc.

“F: Dry Food, is the sixth degree of monastic fasting, which is usually attainted only by the most zealous desert dwellers. Those who live in the this harsh asceticism eat only dried bread soaked in water, with salt or a little vinegar, once a day and by measure. This is how the hesycasts of the Nile valley lived.

“G: Divine Food or manna, is the last and highest degree of monastic fasting, which is attained by very few ascetics after prolonged asceticism, being strengthened by the grace of the Holy Spirit. These are satisfied with the Most Pure Mysteries alone, that is, with the Body and Blood of Christ, which they receive only once or twice a week, without tasting anything else but water only. After difficult temptations and asceticism, and by the Grace of God, I have come to be satisfied with the Most Pure Mysteries alone, and no longer feel hunger, or have need of bread or vegetables…’

“Behold, Fathers, to what measure of spiritual asceticism holy John had arrived. Then I asked him: ‘Your holiness, there in the forest where you live, aren’t you cold in winter?’ ‘Father Theodulus I am a citizen of the Carpathian Mountains, and the Lord takes care of me; for wherever he has found me, I have never lacked anything. I feel neither the cold of winter, nor the intense heat of the sun, nor hunger, nor thirst, nor any other earthly need!’ ‘Your holiness, I greatly wish to withdraw to Sihastria Monastery to be near monks! I would have more quiet there and time for prayer.’ He answered me, ‘If you were ordered by the metropolia to go to Agapia, be obedient since you were sent there by the will and command of God!’

“Observing then that the great hesychast didn’t want to talk long so as to interrupt the Jesus Prayer which he had in his mind and his heart, I thanked him from my heart for the counsels and profitable words he had given me. I made a prostration to him, kissed his hand, and asked his blessing to leave. And the holy Bishop John blessed me with the sign of the holy cross and said to me: ‘May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and forgive me!’

“Another year passed with troubles and trials enough. I didn’t hear any more about Bishop John. In the spring of 1946, my thoughts urged me to go for a few days for a retreat to Sihastria Monastery. I made the usual prayers for traveling, took my staff, and crossed the mountain with the thought that I would once more see the holy hesychast John. When I reached Trapeza clearing, the miracle happened for a third and last time. At the edge of the clearing his holiness John was waiting for me. The same luminous face, the same limpid and cheerful eyes, the same joy and spiritual peace in his soul, the same rough clothing of wool on his thin and elderly body. I made him the customary prostration and kissed his hand, and he kissed my forehead, and we both sat on the trunk of a fir tree blown down by the wind. Nothing earthly interested him. After some moments of silence his holiness said to me: ‘I would like to go back to my native village, to die there. We also have forests enough…’ ‘How can you go now, the nations still haven’t quieted down?’ ‘ I believe in God, that He will always cover me with His hand!’

“Then the Elder, seeing my sadness, strengthened me in hope and conselled me to have great care for the souls that had been entrusted to me at Agapia Monastery, that here will be my salvation. At the end, be blessed me with both hands and kissed me in the Lord. I made a prostration to him, and thus we parted, I with tears in my eyes. He withdrew to his greatly-desired desert, towards the Sihla Mountains, and I descended towards Sihastria. This was my last meeting with him.”

“Since 1946 I haven’t met him again. No one said any more about him. I thought he had departed to the eternal realms, from somewhere in the Sihla Mountains. After five years, however, I heard that a brother of Sihastria who kept the monastery’s sheep met him in the forests towards Chitele Mountain. Going to the pasture with the Sheep, he suddenly noticed that all the sheep had massed together and the dogs stood as if in astonishment. When he looked around, he saw an old monk with a white beard in their midst. It was the holy John! ‘Indeed, in what have I sinned today before God that I am revealed to men!’ the desert-dweller said to himself. Then he said to the brother who kept the sheep: ‘Brother Stephan, come here and don’t be afraid! I know that you confess to Father Elder Joel. But please don’t tell anyone that you me today!”

“Brother Stephan received the Mysteries one week and didn’t tell it to anyone. But his thoughts still urged him to tell it at confession to Father Joel. And the Elder, when he heard about this, immediately took some dried bread and food in a bag and walked through the forests around the monastery for a week with Father Bessarion, the abbot of Sihla Skete, hoping to meet with the holy John. But they didn’t meet him. Then, after a month or two, Brother Stephan was walking with the sheep through the forest, and all of the sudden he met John the Desert-Dweller. He was barefoot and with his head uncovered. He beckoned to him with his hand and said to him: ‘Brother Stephan, I asked one thing of you and you didn’t do it! Know that you will go into the army and will not return again to the monastery!’ And thus it was. The brother went into the army and remained in the world. From that time I have heard no more about holy John the Hesychast.”


Jesus Christ's CV.........( CURRICULUM VITAE )



Hello! My name is Jesus- the Christ. I have sent you my CV because I am seeking to apply for the top executive position in your heart. Please examine my credentials as cited below.

I have created the earth and the Heavens ( Proverbs 3, 19)
I have created man from earth ( Genesis 2, 7)
I have given him the breath of life (Genesis 2, 7)
I have redeemed him from the curse of the law ( Galatians 3, 13)


I have had only one employer,(Luke 2, 49)
I have received only the greatest of recommendations ( Matthew 3, 15-17)


Some of my skills and work experience include: assisting the poor, healing the ailing, restoring sight to the blind
I am an excellent Counsel ( Isaiah 9,06)
But the most important is that I have the authority, the ability and the power to cleanse you from your sins. ( John 1, 7-9)


They cover the breadth and length of all knowledge, wisdom and cognition ( Proverbs 2, 6)
I can even reveal all the secrets buried in your heart ( Psalms 44, 21)


I was actively involved in the mightiest Conference of all Times (Genesis 1, 29) REFERENCES
All my followers and faithful throughout the world will attest to the healings, the divine intervention, the miracles as well as to their deliverance, their transformation and the supernatural guidance they have received from me.
Now that you have come to the end of my CV, I am certain that I am the only candidate possessing the necessary credentials to fill the position in your heart. When can I begin? Now is the proper time (Hebrews 3, 15).

Elder Macarius on Weakness

Doing God's will is not an easy task for most of us. We are so bound up in the drives of our physical existence and the issues of this world that we too often forget God. When we forget God our actions are made from our own will. But, even when are are of the right mind and seeking guidance from God, we often feel that our ability to do what God is asking of us is difficult and even impossible. We may feel weak even when being guided by God. How do we deal with this weakness we seem to have?

Here is the advice from Elder Macarius about this question:

Let this weakness be a source of humility, Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak! (Ps 6:2). Resolutely steer the right course and hope for the best. Search the most hidden meanders of the dark labyrinths that surround the luminoous core of your heart. And uproot pride wherever you find the weed.Do you see how he turns this problem into an opportunity. To admit our weakness and seek God's help requires our humility. This leads us to a realization of our need for His help. In reality we cannot carry out God's will with out this kind of surrender and with His grace.

The Elder says,

Alone, you were weak indeed, but with God's help you are mighty and strong. Steeling your own will to do His, humbly throw yourself on His mercy. If you do so, my prayers will be of the greatest help to you.

Reference: Russian Letters of Spiritual Direction, p 66

Elder Macarius


Ἡ ὑπερηφάνεια τοῦ νοῦ εἶναι ἡ σατανικὴ ὑπερηφάνεια, ἡ ὁποία ἀρνεῖται τὸ Θεὸ καὶ βλασφημεῖ τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα, γί’ αὐτὸ καὶ πολὺ δύσκολα θεραπεύεται. Εἶναι ἕνα βαθὺ σκοτάδι, τὸ ὁποῖο ἐμποδίζει τὰ μάτια τῆς ψυχῆς νὰ δοῦν τὸ φῶς ποὺ ὑπάρχει μέσα της καὶ ποὺ ὁδηγεῖ στὸ Θεό, στὴν ταπείνωση, στὴν ἐπιθυμία τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ.

Ἀντίθετα, ἡ ὑπερηφάνεια τῆς καρδιᾶς δὲν εἶναι γέννημα τῆς σατανικῆς ὑπερηφάνειας, ἀλλὰ δημιουργεῖται ἀπὸ διάφορες καταστάσεις καὶ γεγονότα: πλοῦτο, δόξα, τιμές, πνευματικὰ ἢ σωματικὰ χαρίσματα (εὐφυΐα, ὀμορφιά, δύναμη, δεξιοτεχνία κλπ). Ὅλα αὐτὰ σηκώνουν ψηλὰ τὰ μυαλὰ τῶν ἀνόητων ἀνθρώπων, ποὺ γίνονται ἔτσι ματαιόφρονες, χωρὶς ὅμως νὰ εἶναι καὶ ἄθεοι... Αὐτοὶ πολλὲς φορὲς ἐλεοῦνται ἀπὸ τὸ Θεό, παιδαγωγοῦνται καὶ σωφρονίζονται. Ἡ καρδιά τους συντρίβεται, παύει νὰ ἐπιζητεῖ δόξες καὶ ματαιότητες, κι ἔτσι θεραπεύονται.

Ἡ πνευματική σας ἐργασία νὰ εἶναι ἡ ἐξέταση τῆς καρδιᾶς σας. Μήπως φωλιάζει σ’ αὐτὴν σὰν φαρμακερὸ φίδι ἡ ὑπερηφάνεια, τὸ πάθος ποὺ γεννάει πολλὰ κακά, ποὺ ἀπονεκρώνει κάθε ἀρετή, ποὺ δηλητηριάζει τὰ πάντα; Σ’ αὐτὴ τὴν ἑωσφορικὴ κακία πρέπει νὰ στραφεῖ ὅλη σας ἡ φροντίδα. Μέρα καὶ νύχτα νὰ σᾶς γίνει ἔργο ἀδιάλειπτο ἡ ἔρευνά της.

Θὰ εἶναι ἀλήθεια, νομίζω, ἂν πῶ ὅτι ὅλη ἡ πνευματική μας φροντίδα συνίσταται στὴν ἀναζήτηση καὶ ἐξόντωση τῆς ὑπερηφάνειας καὶ τῶν παιδιῶν της. Ἂν ἀπαλλαγοῦμε ἀπ’ αὐτὴν καὶ θρονιάσουμε στὴν καρδιά μας τὴν ταπεινοφροσύνη, τότε ἔχουμε τὸ πᾶν. Γιατί ὅπου βρίσκεται ἡ ἀληθινὴ κατὰ Χριστὸν ταπείνωση, ἐκεῖ βρίσκονται μαζεμένες καὶ ὅλες οἱ ἄλλες ἀρετές, ποὺ μᾶς ὑψώνουν ὡς τὸ Θεό.

Άγιος Νεκτάριος ο Πενταπόλεως

Τι λένε οι Άγιοι Πατέρες ( Υπομονή )

Η πνευματική λογική μας διδάσκει, πως οι αρρώστειες και γενικά οι θλίψεις, που μας στέλνει ο Θεός, είναι μέσα έκφρασης του ελέους Του και της ευσπλαγχνίας Του για μας. Όπως τα πικρά φάρμακα τους άρρωστους τους ωφελούν πιο πολύ από τα γλυκίσματα, έτσι και αυτές βοηθούν εκείνους που τις υπομένουν στη σωτηρία και στην αιώνια ευτυχία πιο πολύ από τα θαύματα! Συχνά, πολύ συχνά, μια ασθένεια είναι πιο μεγάλη ευεργεσία από ένα θαύμα! Η αρρώστεια είναι τόσο ουσιώδης ευεργεσία, ώστε η απαλλαγή μας από αυτή (έστω και με θαύμα!) να μας βλάπτη, αφού αφαιρεί ένα πιο μεγάλο αγαθό• ένα αγαθό που με κανένα τρόπο δεν μπορεί να συγκριθή με το πρόσκαιρο αγαθό, που μας προσφέρει με θαύμα η θεραπεία μας από κάποια αρρώστεια.

1. Ο πτωχός Λάζαρος, για τον οποίο μιλάει το Ευαγγέλιο, δεν εθεραπεύθηκε ποτέ από την βαρειά αρρώστεια του• ούτε απηλλάγη από τη φτώχεια του. Απέθανε στην ταλαίπωρη εκείνη κατάσταση, στην οποία βασανιζόταν τόσα χρόνια. Όμως, λόγω της υπομονής του, οι άγγελοι τον επήραν και τον επήγαν στην αγκαλιά του Αβραάμ. Η αγία Γραφή μας λέγει ολοκάθαρα, πως ο Θεός σε κείνους που αγαπάει στέλνει πολλές πίκρες, και κυρίως αρρώστειες σωματικές. Σε κάθε της σελίδα η αγία Γραφή μας λέγει, ότι όλοι ανεξαιρέτως οι άγιοι επέρασαν την επί γης ζωή τους βαδίζοντες την οδό την στενή και τεθλιμμένη, που είναι γεμάτη θλίψεις, πίκρες, στερήσει.

Με αυτή τη γνώμη για τις θλίψεις, οι αληθινοί δούλοι του Θεού αντιμετώπιζαν τις θλίψεις, που τους συνέβαιναν, με πολύ μεγάλη περίσκεψη• και με αυταπάρνηση. Όποιες και αν ήσαν, τις εδέχοντο σαν να τους έπρεπαν! Γιατί επίστευαν ολόψυχα ότι δεν θα τους συνέβαιναν, αν δεν τις επέτρεπε ο δικαιοκρίτης Θεός θεωρώντας τες κατάλληλες για τις πνευματικές ανάγκες τους. Η πρώτη τους δουλειά, όταν τους συνέβαινε κάποια θλίψη, ήταν να βάλουν βαθειά στο νου τους ότι τους έπρεπε! Αναζητούσαν στον εαυτό τους την αιτία. Και την εύρισκαν. Και μετά, μόνο αν διαπίστωναν, ότι η θλίψη αυτή τους εμπόδιζε στην ευαρέστηση του Κυρίου, μόνο τότε, Τον παρακαλούσαν να τους απαλλάξη από αυτή. Και πάλι όμως αφήνανε την εκπλήρωση ή μη εκπλήρωση του αιτήματός τους, στη διάθεση του Κυρίου. Και ποτέ δεν τολμούσαν να ειπούν, πως ο τρόπος, με τον οποίο αυτοί αντιμετώπιζαν την δοκιμασία τους, ήταν ο σωστός. Γιατί πράγματι, ποτέ δεν είναι δυνατό να είναι ο σωστός. Γιατί η κρίση του χοϊκού ανθρώπου, έστω και αν είναι και άγιος, δεν μπορεί ποτέ να αγκαλιάση και να ιδή τα πράγματα καλλίτερα από το παντέφορο όμμα του Κυρίου. Ο Θεός ξέρει, γιατί στέλνει δοκιμασίες στους εκλεκτούς Του.

2. Ο άγιος Απόστολος Παύλος μας πληροφορεί, ότι τρις παρεκάλεσε τον Κύριο να τον απαλλάξη από ένα άγγελο Σατάν, που τον εμπόδιζε να τρέχη να κηρύττη την χριστιανική πίστη. Μα δεν εισακούσθηκε! Η κρίση του Θεού στο σημείο αυτό ήταν διαφορετική από την κρίση του θεόπνευστου αποστόλου Του!

Πρέπει να αφήνωμε τον εαυτό μας στο θέλημα του Θεού. Γιατί μόνο τότε, μόνον όταν ποθούμε ειλικρινά και με βαθειά ευλάβεια να γίνεται παντού και πάντοτε το θέλημά Του, μπορούμε να εμπιστευώμαστε, ότι έχομε φρόνημα πνευματικά σωστό.

3. Πολλοί άγιοι μοναχοί, όταν αρρωστούσαν, εδέχοντο την αρρώστεια τους σαν την πιο μεγάλη ευεργεσία του Κυρίου. Και αγωνίζονταν να συνεχίσουν ανεπηρέαστοι την δοξολογία του Θεού. Δεν ζητούσαν την θεραπεία, παρ’ ότι οι με θαύμα θεραπείες από σωματικές ασθένειες είναι συνηθισμένες στους άγιους μοναχούς. Προτιμούσαν να ζητούν από τον Θεό δύναμη να τις περάσουν με υπομονή και με ταπείνωση. Γιατί και το πίστευαν και το διεκήρυτταν, ότι αυτό ήταν πιο ψυχωφελές από κάθε είδους άσκηση, που τυχόν θα έκαναν με το δικό τους θέλημα!

Ο άγιος Ποιμήν λέγει:

Οι τρεις αυτές εργασίες του μοναχού είναι μεταξύ τους ίσες• να ησυχάζη στην έρημο• να είναι άρρωστος και να ευχαριστή τον Θεό• να ζη στην υπακοή γέροντος παρ’ ότι έχει καθαρό (δυνατό) μυαλό.

4. Οι πιο μεγάλοι άγιοι μοναχοί έζησαν στην Σκήτη της Αιγύπτου. Ένας από αυτούς ήταν ο όσιος Βενιαμίν. Η ζωή του ήταν γεμάτη αρετές. Και γι’ αυτό ο Θεός του έδωσε πλούσια το χάρισμα των ιαμάτων. Και ενώ λοιπόν είχε αυτό το χάρισμα, ο ίδιος είχε μια πολύ βαρειά αρρώστεια: μια χρονίας μορφής υδρωπικία! Μερικές φορές απέπνεε μια φοβερή δυσοσμία. Και τότε οι μοναχοί αναγκάζονταν να τον μεταφέρουν από το κελλί του, σε μέρος μακρινό! Και στο κελλί του να βγάζουν εντελώς τις πόρτες! Και του είχαν φτιάξει ένα ειδικό κάθισμα, γιατί δεν του ήταν δυνατό να ξαπλώση στο κρεβάτι! Μα και στην κατάσταση αυτή ο όσιος συνέχιζε να θεραπεύη τους άλλους! Και εκείνους, που βλέποντας τα παθήματά του τον συμπονούσαν, τους συμβούλευε και τους παρακαλούσε, να προσεύχωνται για την ψυχή του• και να μη νοιάζωνται για το σώμα του. «Όταν το σώμα μου ήταν γερό, τους έλεγε, δεν είχα καμμιά ιδιαίτερη ωφέλεια από αυτό. Τουλάχιστον τώρα που έπεσα σε αρρώστεια δεν μου προξενεί βλάβη!».

5. Ένας άλλος άγιος, ο Αββάς Πέτρος, έλεγε, ότι, κάποιος επεσκέφθη τον όσιο Ησαΐα τον αναχωρητή. Τον ευρήκε να πάσχη από μια βαρειά αρρώστεια. Και του εξέφραζε τη συμπόνια του. Ο όσιος του απάντησε: Παρ’ ότι έχω τόσο πολύ συμφιλιωθή με την σκέψη της αρρώστειας μου, μόλις και μετά βίας κατορθώνω να διατηρώ την μνήμη της φοβεράς εκείνης ώρας (του θανάτου και της κρίσεως)! Αν το σώμα μου ήταν καλά, η μνήμη εκείνη θα είχε σβήση μέσα μου. Όταν το σώμα είναι υγιές, τότε ρέπει πιο πολύ σε πράξεις και ενέργειες επιζήμιες και αντίθετες στο θέλημα του Θεού. Οι δοκιμασίες μας είναι μια μέθοδος, που μας οδηγεί κάπως πιο σίγουρα στην τήρηση των εντολών του Θεο.

Οι άγιοι πατέρες το ήξεραν πολύ καλά, ότι στις θλίψεις και δοκιμασίες μας αξία έχει η υπομονή• και ότι η υπομονή είναι κάτι που εξαρτάται από μας τους ίδιους. Για αυτό και κατηγορούσαν μόνο τον εαυτό τους. Εβίαζαν έτσι την καρδιά τους να έχη υπομονή. Έφερναν στη μνήμη τους το θάνατο, το κριτήριο του Θεού, τις αιώνιες τιμωρίες• και με την ανάμνησή τους, οποιαδήποτε και αν είναι η σημασία, η εντύπωση και η αίσθηση των επιγείων θλίψεων, εξασθενίζει. Ανέβαζαν τη σκέψη τους στην πρόνοια του Θεού. Υπενθύμιζαν στον εαυτό τους την επαγγελία του Υιού του Θεού, ότι θα είναι αδιάστατα ενωμένος με εκείνους που Τον ακολουθούν και θα τους φυλάττη.

Παρορμούσαν τον εαυτό τους να έχη ευψυχία και ανδρεία. Πίεζαν τον εαυτό τους να δοξάζη και να ευχαριστή τον Θεό για τις θλίψεις. Τον έσπρωχναν στην συνειδητοποίηση της αμαρτωλότητός τους, που τους έκανε άξιους κάθε τιμωρίας. Ενθυμούντο και την ευσπλαγχνία του Κυρίου, αλλά και την δικαιοκρισία του. Και καταβάλλοντας κάθε προσπάθεια, να έχουν υπομονή, ανέπεμπαν εκτενείς προσευχές στο Θεό να τους δίνη αυτό το θείο χάρισμα της ευλογημένης υπομονής, που είναι πάντοτε αχώριστη από το άλλο χάρισμα του πνεύματος, την ευλογημένη ταπείνωση• γιατί οι δύο αυτές αρετές, είναι εγγύηση σωτηρίας και αιώνιας μακαριότητας.

6. Οι μεγάλοι σημειοφόροι άγιοι πατέρες, παρ’ ότι τους ήταν τόσο εύκολο, δεν εθεράπευσαν ποτέ τους μαθητές τους, όταν κατά θέλημα Κυρίου αρρωστούσαν. Αυτό το έκαναν για να μην τους στερήσουν το πνευματικό αγώνισμα και την ωφέλεια, που θα είχαν με την υπομονή, αν περνούσαν την αρρώστεια τους, όπως ορίζει η παράδοση της Εκκλησίας μας.

7. Ο ηγούμενος του κοινοβίου της Γάζας, όσιος Σέριδος, ο μαθητής του μεγάλου εκείνου Βαρσανουφίου, που έζησε με απόλυτη σιωπή στο κοινόβιο αυτό, ήταν για πολλά χρόνια άρρωστος. Μερικοί από τους γέροντες της αδελφότητος παρακαλούσαν τον Μέγαν (Βαρσανούφιον) να θεραπεύση τον ηγούμενο. Ο όσιος Βαρσανούφιος τους απάντησε:

«Μερικοί άγιοι άνθρωποι (που υπάρχουν εδώ) θα μπορούσαν να παρακαλέσουν για την υγεία του τον Θεό, να μη ξαναρρωστήση ούτε μια ημέρα. Και αν Τον παρακαλούσαν, θα γινόταν. Και εγώ του το είπα αυτό. Αν όμως αυτό γινόταν, θα έχανε την ευκαιρία να αποκτήση την μεγάλη καρποφορία της υπομονής. Μα τι λέτε; Δεν ξέρει, πόσο έχω υποφέρει εγώ; Τι αρρώστειες! Τι πυρετούς! Τι θλίψεις; Και να, τώρα ευρίσκομαι στον εύδιο αυτό λιμένα. Και αυτόν πολύ τον ωφελεί η αρρώστεια του. Τον μαθαίνει να έχη υπομονή και να ευχαριστή τον Θεό».

Άγιοι Πατέρες

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