Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I was looking at you when you woke up this morning. I was expecting you to tell me one or two things, thanking me for everything that was happening to you, asking for my assistance for whatever you were about to do today.
I realized that you were very busy trying to find what to wear for work. I was hoping that you would find a few moments to tell me ‘good morning’!
But you were very busy. To help you see that I was near you, I had created the colorful sky and the songs of the birds. What a pity! You didn’t even notice my presence, not even then.
I was looking at you being in a hurry for work and was again waiting for you. I suspected that because you were busy you didn’t have time to say a few words to Me, even then.
When you returned from work, I saw how tired you were and how stressed and sent you some rain to relieve you from the day’s stress. I thought that by making this favor to you, you would remember Me.
Instead, being tired, you swore at Me. I so much wished that you would have wanted to talk to Me.
Still the day was not over yet. You switched on the TV and watched your favorite program. I was waiting. Then you had dinner with your loved ones and once again you didn’t remember Me.
Seeing you so exhausted, I understood your need for silence and turned off the sky’s brilliance so you could get some rest, but I didn’t turn the sky into a dark pitch. I turned on innumerable stars for you. They were so beautiful… it’s a pity you didn’t see them… never mind!
Do you really realize that I am here for you; I have more patience that you can ever imagine. I want to demonstrate this, so that you tell those around you.I love you so much that I am putting up with you.
Any moment now, you will wake up again. All I can do is to love you and hope that today at least you will give me some of your time…
Your loving Father
The Lord of Infinite Love.
“Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear…” (Matt. 13:13)
This is Jesus’ description of those who encountered Him but did not understand. Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see it. Just because we hear something doesn’t mean we’ve heard it. This is particularly true of Holy Scripture. Just because we read it doesn’t mean we’ve read it.
Why do we read the Scriptures?
I assume that anyone who is “reading the Scriptures” is, in fact, a believing Christian, otherwise they would just be reading a collection of ancient writings held in esteem by Christians. For the books of the Bible to be “Scripture” is to say that they are considered somehow inspired and somehow authoritative. But to read them as Scripture also asks the question: “Whose Scripture?” The answer is, “The Christian Community’s – the Church’s.”
Some point famously to Paul’s admonition to Timothy:
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
However, this is the admonition of an Apostle to a Bishop. “Doctrine” (“teaching”) is not the task of every Christian. Instead we are told that not many of us should be teachers (James 3:1). St. Paul urges believers at various times to give heed to the “doctrine” that they have received (Romans 16:17; 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Timothy 4:6; etc.).
In our modern culture, many Christians act as though they have a major task in life to learn doctrine, meaning to once again study the Scriptures and come to their own conclusions about everything under the sun. It is as though Martin Luther was reincarnated multiple times in every generation.
Doctrine, sound teaching, is the “pattern” of teaching which has been delivered (traditioned) to us. We find witnesses to this teaching in the Fathers from the first century forward. The reading of Scripture is not the means whereby we arrive at sound doctrine – sound doctrine is the means whereby we rightly read the Scriptures. The Christian reading of Holy Scripture is a “doctrinally-ruled” reading. We do not come to the Scriptures to decide whether the Nicene Council “got it right.” Without a knowledge of doctrine, much of Scripture will remain closed to the reader.
But there are ways of reading Scripture that are appropriate and generally essential to the Christian life. “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life, and these are they which testify of me,” Christ says (John 5:39).
The most appropriate and life-giving manner of reading the Scriptures is to read them as a means of communion (koinonia) with God. Communion with God, sharing in His Life even as He shares in ours, is the means and the goal of salvation. Everything in the Christian life – indeed, the whole purpose of human life – is communion with God. Sin is the breaking of this communion, while salvation is its restoration. All of the sacraments have the one purpose of communion with God, whether manifest as Eucharist, Healing, Ordination, Baptism, etc. The only purpose of prayer is communion with God, for we do not speak to God to inform Him of what He already knows nor to convince of what He is already going to do. We are taught to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), because communion “without ceasing” is the very definition of the Christian life.
So how do we read for the purpose of communion? St. Isaac of Syria says this:
The course of your reading should be parallel to the aim of your way of life…. Most books that contain instructions in doctrine are not useful for purification. The reading of many diverse books brings distraction of mind down on you. Know, then, that not every book that teaches about religion is useful for the purification of the consciousness and the concentration of the thoughts.
In our democratic culture, we find it offensive that anyone should be forbidden to read anything. I would only point to the spiritual abuse found on any number of “Orthodox” websites in which serious matters, originally written for monastics or for the guidance of clergy are tossed about for even the non-Orthodox to read. As if the canons of the Church were meant for mass consumption!
Parents who care about the health of their children usually follow some regimen in the course of their young lives when it comes to feeding them. “Milk and not stong meat” is the Scriptural admonition for those who are young in the faith. St. James offers this warning:
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness(3:1).
And St. Peter’s Second Epistle offers this:
So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures (3:15-16).
It’s not that Scripture or Canons or books of doctrine are to be avoided or forbidden – rather, that we should learn to read with wisdom in an effort to grow spiritually and not in an effort simply to gain knowledge of a questionable sort.
St. Isaac’s observation is that we give attention first to “purification of the consciousness and concentration of thoughts.” By such phrases he refers primarily to the daily regimen of what we read and how we pray (as well as fasting and repentance) towards the goal of overcoming the passions. Only someone who is not himself ruled by the passions is ready to safely guide someone else beyond those same rocks. Anger and condemnation, pride and superiority are marks of the passions. The passions cannot read the Scriptures and the Traditions rightly, nor offer them to others without doing harm. The same can be said about most argumentation. Reading for the sake of feeding our opinions is actuallyspiritually harmful.
So, to follow St. Isaac’s guidance, we are reading rightly when our reading is an integral part of a life whose single goal is communion with God. Obviously, “single goal” is the end of the game. On a daily basis we build towards that goal.
Reading with communion as a goal does not mean we avoid information (when we read), but that gathering information is not our primary purpose. Before the Divine Liturgy, as I enter the altar, I recite the portion of Psalm 5 appointed for priests:
I will enter Thy house, I will worship toward Thy holy temple in the fear of Thee. Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of my enemies; make my way straight before Thee. For there is no truth in their mouth; their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulcher, they flatter with their tongue. Judge them, O God, let them fall by their own counsels; because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against Thee. But let all who take refuge in Thee rejoice, let them always sing for joy; and do Thou dwell in them, that those who love Thy name my exult in Thee. For Thou blessest the righteous, O Lord, Thou coverest us with good will as with a shield.
How can I read this as communion? About whom am I speaking? This is roughly how I read this in my heart:
I will enter my heart [that place where God dwells], I will acknowledge that it is You who dwell in me. Lead me rightly, O Lord, because of the wicked thoughts within me [my enemies]….My thoughts [logismoi] have no truth in them – they think only of destruction. They are like an open grave….Let me sing with joy in my heart – where You dwell. Let me exult in Your name. For those who rejoice in the Name of Jesus will exult and be blessed. You protect them with Your good will.
And I follow these thoughts into my heart. There I find communion with God – distractions flee away. There have been other times in my priesthood when I recited this Psalm as though it were a meditation of God protecting me from other people – particularly those about whom I felt anxious, or whom, in my neurosis, I imagined to be enemies. Such a reading (close to a literal reading) was not only useless, but left me deeper in darkness than I had been before I began my day.
Devotional reading tends to be slow, and often of short duration. For many books that I read – I can only take in a few pages a day.
Contrary to our popular self-conception, we are not a culture that values learning. We are a culture that values opinion, and opinion as entertainment (God save us from the pundits!). Dilettantism plagues us. If we want to be Christians, we must start with the small things and the practices that make for proper discipleship and “let not many of us become teachers.” Let many of us become those who pray, who fast, who repent, who forgive even their enemies and through the grace of God come to know the stillness within which God may be known.
Η προσευχή της Εκκλησίας έχει τόσο μεγάλη δύναμη, ώστε και αν ακόμη είμαστε πιο άφωνοι και από τις πέτρες, θα μπορούσε να κάνει τη γλώσσα μας πιο ελαφρά από το φτερό. Διότι, όπως ο ζέφυρος όταν φυσάει στα πανιά του πλοίου το κάνει να τρέχει πιο γρήγορα από το βέλος, έτσι και η προσευχή της Εκκλησίας όταν πέσει στη γλώσσα αυτού που την λέει, κινεί τον λόγο δυνατότερο από τον ζέφυρο.
Πόση τιμή δε έχει το πράγμα, να είναι κάποιος άνθρωπος και να συνομιλεί με το Θεό, όλοι το γνωρίζουν, αλλά να δείξουν με λόγια το μέγεθός της δεν μπορούν οι πολλοί, διότι αυτή η τιμή ξεπερνά και των Αγγέλων τη μεγαλοπρέπεια. Αυτό το γνωρίζουν οι ίδιοι οι Άγγελοι, αφού φαίνονται πως έφερναν τις δεήσεις των Προφητών στο Θεό, τους ύμνους και τις λατρείες στο Δεσπότη με φόβο πολύ, έχοντας και τα πόδια σκεπασμένα από την μεγάλη ευλάβεια.
Αλλά αν εκείνοι που πετούν και δεν ησυχάζουν καθόλου δείχνουν το φόβο που έχουν, τούτο μου φαίνεται ότι το κάνουν για να εκπαιδεύουν εμάς στον καιρό της προσευχής να λησμονούμε την ανθρώπινη φύση· και με την προθυμία και τον φόβο που έχουμε, να μη βλέπουμε, ούτε να φανταζόμαστε κανένα πράγμα τούτου του κόσμου, αλλά να μας φαίνεται πως είμαστε μεταξύ των Αγγέλων και προσφέρουμε τη λατρεία που προσφέρουν κι εκείνοι. Διότι όλα τα άλλα, τα δικά μας, είναι πολύ χωρισμένα από τα δικά τους· και η φύση και ο τρόπος ζωής και η σοφία και η φροντίδα και ό,τι άλλο· η προσευχή όμως είναι κοινό έργο των Αγγέλων και των ανθρώπων.
Αυτή η προσευχή σε ξεχωρίζει από τα άλογα ζώα, αυτή η προσευχή σε κάνει σύντροφο των Αγγέλων αυτή μπορεί γρήγορα να σε ανεβάσει στη δική τους πολιτεία, στη ζωή, στη δίαιτα, και την τιμή και την συγγένεια, και τη σύνεση και τη σοφία, και να σε κάνει να φροντίζεις όλη σου τη ζωή να βρίσκεσαι σε προσευχές και στη λατρεία του Θεού.
Φαινομενικα ειμαι μια γυναικα που εχει πολλα τατουαζ, piercing και το ντυσιμο μου αλλα και η μουσικη που ακουω ειναι λιγο extreme για μια μανα με δυο παιδια. Κανεις οταν με βλεπει δε μπορει να φανταστει οτι εχω πιστη, οτι προσευχομαι, οτι ελπιζω σε ενα θαυμα.Απο μικρη πιστευα γιατι αυτο με βοηθουσε. Ομως παντα μα παντα ζητουσα βοηθεια απο την Παναγια.
Πριν απο 10 χρονια ημουν εγκυος. Λογω δουλειας ημουν στην Σαντορινη. Ο γιατρος που με παρακολουθουσε διαπιστωσε παλινδρομη κύηση. Κρυος ιδρωτας με ελουσε και πανικος. Ηθελε να μου παρει το εμβρυο στο ιατρειο του χωρις καν να ξερουμε αν θα μπορουσαμε να βρουμε αιμα αν χρειαζοταν ή και σε περιπτωση επιπλοκης θα επρεπε να μεταφερθω στην Κρητη με ελικοπτερο.
Το σκεφτηκα, το συζητησα με τον αντρα μου και ειπα πως θα κανω κουραγιο να παω Θεσσαλονικη. Σε αεροπλανο φοβομουνα να μπω (δεν ειχα ταξιδεψει ποτε εως τοτε και η κατασταση μού μεγαλωνε τον φοβο). Ετσι η μονη λυση ηταν το καραβι. 2 μερες πριν ταξιδεψω για Θεσσαλονικη (19 ωρες ταξιδι) μονη μου, γιατι ο αντρας μου δε μπορουσε να φυγει απο την δουλεια του, ειδα το πρωτο αιμα. Σταματησαν οι αναγουλες, σταματησε η υπνηλια. Καταλαβα οτι αποβαλω.
Στον γιατρο δεν ξαναπηγα, ρισκαρα κανονικα τη ζωη μου. Ερχεται η μερα του ταξιδιου και προσευχομαι στην Παναγια και της ζηταω να ταξιδεψω ασφαλης προς την Θεσσαλονικη. Το αιμα ελαχιστο αλλα σταθερο. Φτανει το καραβι στην Τηνο. Προσευχομαι και ταζω το πρωτο παιδι που θα κανω καποια στιγμη στην χαρη της, αρκει να φτασω καλα.
Μετα απο 2 ωρες παω τουαλετα. Αιμα πουθενα. Ειχε σταματησει η αιμοραγια.
Φτανω Θεσσαλονικη την επομενη. Αιμα πουθενα. Με πηγαινουν οι δικοι μου στο νοσοκομειο. Πραματικα ειχα μπει σε διαδικασια αποβολης αλλα ο οργανισμος μου ηταν σαν να μη περνουσα κατι τετοιο. Στον υπερηχο φαινοταν ο σακος αλλα κανενα ιχνος καρδουλας εννοειται. Με βαζουν χειρουργειο και με καθαριζουν.
Την πρωτη μου κορη την ονομασα Δεσποινα, οπως της ειχα ταξει.