Monday, November 4, 2013


Two types of Prayer ( Elder Sergei of Vanves )

The Elder Sergei taught that prayer is most important for an Orthodox Way of Life. Prayer is of two types. One is asking for God’s help. The other is giving thanks, always remembering that everything comes from God with His help. This attitude is essential to avoid pride. Prayer should focus on the spiritual and not the material. With spiritual help God will grant what is necessary in material things. In everything we must give thanks to God.

Prayer should not be based on our desires or our personal inspiration. We pray because it is necessary. Lack of prayer or the feeling of not wanting to pray is a sin according to the Elder.

“It is absolutely scandalous to says “I don’t feel like praying.” Such a thing is an offense to God, a true blasphemy. That we pray must be absolute, unchanging rule in our lives. We must pray no matter what the cost because it really is a matter of life and death. We don’t decide to breath because of our good will, we don’t think about whether it’s really necessary to breath, we never ask why. We know that is we stop breathing we will die. We must treat prayer with the same attitude, that it is absolutely essential to even staying alive and that there is no question that we need to do it at all times. We should say to ourselves “That’s how it is, period!” We must stick to a rule of prayer and keep it at all costs.” Prayer is difficult. We must never assume that external circumstances are to blame for these difficulties. All difficulties are due to our own condition. They can be overcome by: (1) repentance; (2) effort of the will; (3) patience; (4) rigorous discipline.

We should have a prayer rule which at a minimum involves setting aside at least two times every day for prayer, in the morning and the evening. We should set aside specific times for this activity. Establishing a rule that we know we can perform day after day, allows us to develop habits which will lead us to continual prayer.

The idea of intense times of prayer in the morning and evening is to make it easier for us to pray the rest of the time. Our aim is to develop a life which is based on prayer. Prayer should become continual keeping God in our mind and hearts all the time in everything we do.

“The morning and evening prayers are not, on their own, sufficient. They are like stretches in gymnastics, warm-ups, which help to develop our capacity to breath more deeply and stretch our mussels, but they do not give u breath for the rest of the day.” The Elder tells us that prayer allows us to become more present to God as well as others and ourselves. Through prayer we unite ourselves evermore closely with God. We gain greater insight about others and deepen our interpersonal relationships. With prayer we are better able to live each moment watchfully and live according to God’s will. We become more present in the world and at the same time are more detached from it. The heavenly kingdom become our greatest reality. Through prayer we learn the language of the life to come.

“ One of the dangers in prayer is to make it totally real activity. Our motivation must be love of God Himself, not love of knowledge of Him or love of understanding Him. Prayer must be a spiritual act, not a mental one. Concentration is not solely a mental act; all of our faculties must work together.” Before beginning prayer we must ask God to forgive all our sins for the way we have been unfaithful to Him. We acknowledge our weaknesses and seek His help with humility. All our requests in prayer must be done with humility.
Our life should be lived in the spirit of prayer. The Elder says, “Prayer is our very breath.”

“Prayer should be like a vigil lamp in our hearts: permanent. We must always make sure that it has oil to continue burning. In the moments when we find it most difficult to pray, we should pray at least a little so that the light in our hearts won’t go out. We must be like the wise virgins, not like the foolish maidens, so that we will not be taken by surprise when death comes.”

Elder Sergei of Vanves

Kαύση νεκρού ( Γέροντας Παϊσιος )

Ήρθε εδώ κάποιος, καθηγητής Πανεπιστημίου, και μου λέει ότι σκέφτονται στα σοβαρά να καίνε τα οστά των νεκρών, γιατί δεν υπάρχει χώρος.

—Βρε, τού λέω, τι δεν υπάρχει χώρος; Τόσα ρουμάνια έχει η Θεσσαλονίκη!! Ολόκληρος Χορτιάτης! Γέμισε ένα νεκροταφείο, μετά 3-4 χρόνια, φτιάχνεις άλλο ένα πιο πέρα. Τι γέμισαν τα βουνά παντού με πολυκατοικίες;

—Μου λέει και εξ απόψεως υγιεινής! Τι εξ απόψεως υγιεινής, που έχετε βρωμίσει όλο τον κόσμο, που βρωμίσατε τη θάλασσα στη Θεσσαλονίκη και αλλού, ενώ τα οστά είναι πλυμένα, καθαρισμένα! Λίγο σεβασμό. Αλλά αυτοί πάνε να εξευτελίσουν τον άνθρωπο, να τον κάνουν να μην αξίζει τίποτα. Να τον ξεκόψουν από τη ρίζα του, από τους προγόνους του, από την παράδοση του, να τον αφήσουν μόνο και έρημο, να καταστρέψουν τη μνήμη του, τη σύνδεση του με τους προηγούμενους, με τις αξίες και τη ζωή των προγόνων, για να τον κάνουν μετά ό,τι θέλουν με διάφορες θεωρίες να τον τραβάν από δω και από κει. Πάνε να σκορπίσουν την αθεΐα. Πέθανε; πάει χάθηκε ο άνθρωπος!

Να μην μπορεί να πάει στο κοιμητήριο, να φέρει στη μνήμη του το νεκρό, να αποδώσει κάποιο σεβασμό, κάποια τιμή. Να σκεφτεί σοβαρά πάνω στη ζωή, να καταλάβει ότι είμαστε περαστικοί απ’ αυτόν τον κόσμο, ότι έχει αξία η δικαιοσύνη και η τιμημένη ζωή. Αυτοί θέλουν να κρατούν το νου του ανθρώπου σ’ αυτή τη ζωή συνέχεια, χωμένο μέσα στην ύλη.

Μετά μέσα σ' αυτά τα οστά υπάρχουν και τόσοι Άγιοι, που δεν τους γνωρίζουμε. Όταν είχα πάει ένα ταξίδι στο Σινά, στη Ραϊθώ, πήγα στο νεκροταφείο τού Αγίου Γεωργίου και βρήκα τα οστά ενός μικρού παιδιού που είχαν πολλή χάρη… Ήταν σαν Άγια λείψανα, είχε περάσει η μπουλντόζα και τα είχε ξεθάψει - μάζεψα ό,τι μπόρεσα. Μετά από τόσα χρόνια!!! Τι αισθάνθηκα τότε!!! ενώ αν δεν υπήρχε το κοιμητήριο; Τίποτα, θα ήταν χαμένα.
Παλιά είχαν τόσο σεβασμό στους νεκρούς, αφού δεν έπαιρναν τίποτα από νεκρό. Μια φορά στον πόλεμο, μας είπε ο ταγματάρχης: οποίος έχει παλιά παπούτσια, άμα θέλει μπορεί να πάρει από τους νεκρούς. Κανείς δεν πήρε. Τώρα τους καίνε στη Δύση και θέλουν και εδώ να κάνουν τέτοια.

Γέροντας Παϊσιος

A blessing from God ( Elder Paisios )

Elder Paisios quotes this old saying and asks, "What does it mean?" Clearly it is saying that it is better to work, which in earlier times would wear out your shoes, than to be lazy and to spend your time in bed wearing out the blankets.

Elder Paisios describes work in this way:
Work is a blessing, a gift from God. Work gives vigor to the body and refreshes the mind. If God had not given us work, man would have become moldy Those who are diligent work into their old age. If they stop working while they still have strength, they become melancholy; it's like death for them.
There is no way to gain peace without engaging in work of some kind. When we do take a break, like a vacation or even a lunch hour, when we did not return to work, what would we do? We would seek out some other kind of comfort. When it ended we would seek another. We would never find satisfaction. We would be filled with anxiety, not from work, but from our inability to find true comfort. We would feel an emptiness, a need for being of some value to others. Our soul would be longing to carry out the will of God which is to help and love others. This is why even though we may find ourselves fatigued at the end of a good days work, we can feel a sense of joy that we have been useful, worthwhile, have contributed to the life of mankind.

It is important to carry our faith into our work place. We should pray before we take on our various projects for God to guide and help us. We should find ways to show kindness to those we work with. In this way we carry our God's will into our work place. What is essential is to always keep God in mind while we work.

Work is a blessing from God

Resource: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life, pg176

The eyes of the soul ( Saint Isaac the Syrian )

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

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

Fear is the paternal rod that guides our way until we reach the spiritual paradise of good things;and when we have attained thereto,it leaves us and turns back.
Paradise is the love of God,wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness,and there the blessed Paul partook of supernatural nourishment.When he tasted there of the tree of life,he cried out, saying,'eye that hath not seen,nor ear heard,neither have entered into the heart of man,the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him'. Adam was barred from this tree through the devil's counsel.

The tree of life is the love of God from which Adam fell away,and thereafter he saw joy no longer,and he toiled and labored in the land of thorns.Even though they make their way in righteousness,those who are bereft of the love of God eat in their work the bread of sweat,which the first-created man was commanded to eat after his
fall.Until we find love,our labor is in the land of thorns,and in the midst of thorns we both sow and reap,even if our seed is the seed of righteousness, and in every hour we are pricked by the thorns,and
however much we render ourselves righteous,we live by the sweat of our brow.
But when we find love,we partake of heavenly bread and are made strong without labor and toil.The heavenly bread is Christ, Who came down from Heaven and gave life to the world.This is the
nourishment of the angels.The man who has found love eats and drinks Christ every day and hour and hereby is made immortal.;He that eateth of this bread,;He says,;which i will give him,shall not see death unto eternity.'Blessed is he who eats the bread of love,which is Jesus!He who eats of love eats Christ,the God over all,as John bears witness, saying,'God is love.'

Wherefore,the man who lives in love reaps life from God,and while yet in this world,he even now breathes the air of the resurrection;in this air the righteous will delight in the resurrection.Love is
the kingdom,whereof the Lord mystically promised His disciples to eat in his Kingdom.For when we hear Him say,'Ye shall eat and drink at the table of My Kingdom,;what do we suppose we shall eat,if not love?Love is sufficient to nourish a man instead of food and drink.
This is the wine that 'maketh glad the heart of man.'Blessed is he who drinks of this wine! Profligates have drunk this wine and felt shame; sinners have drunk it and have forgotten the pathways of stumbling;drunkards have drunk this wine and become fasters,the rich have drunk it and desired poverty;the poor have drunk it and been made rich with hope;the sick have drunk it and become strong;the unlearned have taken it and been made wise.

As it is not possible to cross over the great ocean without a ship,so no one can attain to love without fear.This fetid sea,which lies between us and the noetic paradise,we can cross with the boat of
repentance, whose oarsmen are those of fear.But if the oarsmen of fear do not pilot this barque of repentance wherewith we cross over the sea of this world to God,we shall be drowned in the fetid
sea.Repentance is the ship,and fear is the pilot; love is the divine haven.
Thus fear sets us in the ship of repentance, transports us over the foul sea of this life(that is,of the world),and guides us to the divine port, which is love.Hither proceed all that labor and are afflicted and heavy laden in repentance.When we attain love,we attain to God.
Our way is ended and we have passed unto the isle that lies beyond the world,where is the Father,and the Son,and the Holy Spirit,to Whom be glory and dominion,and may He make us worthy of His
glory and His love through the fear of Him.


Saint Isaac the Syrian 

Ο Πνευματικός Αγώνας: Ταπείνωση, προσοχή, αντίρρηση και προσευχή

Πρέπει, όποιος κάνει τον εσωτερικό αγών, αν έχει κάθε στιγμή τα παρακάτω τέσσερα πράματα μέσα του: ταπείνωση, απόλυτη προσοχή, αντίρρηση και προσευχή.

Ταπείνωση, για να έχει, επειδή πρέπει να παλέψει με αντιπάλους τους περήφανους δαίμονες, πρόχειρη τη βοήθεια του Χριστού. Ο Κύριος μισεί τους περήφανους (Παροιμ. Γ’ 34).

Προσοχή, για να έχει την καρδιά του ελεύθερη από κάθε λογισμό κι αν ακόμα φαίνεται τάχα αγαθός.

Αντίρρηση, για να προβάλλει μόλις ίδη να έρχεται ο πονηρός αμέσως αντιρρήσεις με οργή. «Και αποκριθήσομαι, λέει ο Ψαλμωδός, τοις ονειδίζουσί μου κακά, ουχί τω Θεώ υποταγήσεται η ψυχή μου;» (θα αποκριθώ σ’ αυτούς που με κατηγορούν και μου αποδίδουν κακά, δεν πρέπει να υποταχθή στον Θεό η ψυχή μου; – Ψαλμ. Ξα’ 2).

Προσευχή, για να κράξη η ψυχή στον Χριστό με αλάλητους στεναγμούς αμέσως μετά την αντίρρηση. Και τότε ο ίδιος ο αγωνιστής θα ιδή να διαλύεται ο εχθρός ή να διώχνεται μαζί με όλες τις φαντασίες του με τη δύναμη του προσκυνητού ονόματος όπως χάνεται το λεπτό χώμα ή ο καπνός στο φύσημα του ανέμου.

Ησυχίου πρεσβυτέρου

από το βιβλίο: Μικρή Φιλοκαλία

εκδ. Αποστολική Διακονία

Να μη μας χωρίζει απ’ τον Χριστό η αμαρτία ( Γέροντας Πορφύριος )

Όταν αγαπάς τον Χριστό, παρόλες τις αδυναμίες και τη συναίσθηση που έχεις γι’ αυτές έχεις τη βεβαιότητα ότι ξεπέρασες τον θάνατο, γιατί βρίσκεσαι στην κοινωνία της αγάπης του Χριστού.
Τον Χριστό να τον αισθανόμαστε σαν φίλο μας. Είναι φίλος μας. Το βεβαιώνει ο ίδιος, όταν λέει: «Εσείς είστε φίλοι μου …;» (Ιω. 15,14).

Σαν φίλο να τον ατενίζομε και να τον πλησιάζομε. Πέφτομε; Αμαρτάνομε; Με οικειότητα, με αγάπη κι εμπιστοσύνη να τρέχομε κοντά του· όχι με φόβο ότι θα μας τιμωρήσει αλλά με θάρρος, που θα μας το δίδει η αίσθηση του φίλου.

Να του πούμε: «Κύριε, το έκανα, έπεσα, συγχώρεσέ με». Αλλά συγχρόνως να αισθανόμαστε ότι μας αγαπάει, ότι μας δέχεται τρυφερά, με αγάπη και μας συγχωρεί.

Να μη μας χωρίζει απ’ τον Χριστό η αμαρτία.

Όταν πιστεύουμε ότι μας αγαπάει και τον αγαπάμε, δεν θα αισθανόμαστε ξένοι και χωρισμένοι απ’ Αυτόν, ούτε όταν αμαρτάνουμε.

Έχουμε εξασφαλίσει την αγάπη Του κι όπως και να φερθούμε, ξέρομε ότι μας αγαπάει.

Γέροντας Πορφύριος
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