Thursday, January 16, 2014
«Ο Καλός Θεός μας δίνει πλούσιες τις ευλογίες Του. Να μη δείχνουμε αχαριστία και Τον παροργίζουμε, γιατί έρχεται «η οργή του Θεού επί τους υιούς της απειθείας» (Εφ. 5,6). - μη γένοιτο. Στην εποχή μας δεν πέρασαν οι άνθρωποι ούτε πολέμους ούτε πείνα και λένε ότι δεν έχουν ανάγκη και από τον Θεό. Τα έχουν όλα και γι' αυτό δεν εκτιμούν τίποτε. 'Αν όμως έλθη δύσκολος καιρός, πείνα κ.λ.π., και δεν έχουν τι να φάνε, τότε θα εκτιμήσουν και το ψωμί και την μαρμελάδα και όσα θα στερηθούν. 'Αμα δεν δοξάζουμε τον -θεό, επιτρέπει ο Θεός να έρθη μια δοκιμασία, για να εκτιμήσουμε τα πράγματα. Ενώ, όταν τα εκτιμούμε, δεν επιτρέπει ο Θεός να συμβή τίποτε το κακό.
«Η ευχή του Ιησού είναι η κατ΄ εξοχήν άσκηση του νου και της καρδιάς, το μέσο αγιασμού όλων των πιστών. Περιέχει ομολογία πίστεως στον Θεό και εξομολόγηση της πτώσεως του ανθρώπου, γι΄ αυτό και έχει πληρότητα.
Το όνομα Ιησούς δόθηκε με αποκάλυψη άνωθεν, είναι αναπόσπαστο από το πρόσωπο του Χριστού και η Θεοπρεπής επίκλησή του ζωοποιεί τη χαρισματική παρουσία του. Τοποθετεί τον άνθρωπο στην οδό του Κυρίου και τον απεργάζεται αχειροποίητο ναό της θεότητος.
Κατά την Κ. Διαθήκη η κλήση των πιστών συνίσταται στο να βαστάσουν το Όνομα του Ιησού Χριστού, το διαφορώτατον και υπέρ παν όνομα.
Η επίκληση αυτού του ονόματος ενοποιεί τον όλο άνθρωπο: νου, καρδιά και σώμα. Τούτο κατορθώνεται με την κατάβαση του νου στην καρδιά, αφού πρώτα σταυρωθεί από τα ευαγγελικά προστάγματα.
Η ευχή του Ιησού είναι άκρως δημιουργική:
α) Κρατά το πνεύμα του ανθρώπου σε επαφή με το Πνεύμα του Κυρίου. Ελευθερώνει τον πιστό από το σαρκικό φρόνημα και τον κατεργάζεται στόχο της επισκοπής του Κυρίου.
β) Επικεντρώνει την προσοχή αποκλειστικά στη σκέψη του Θεού και παρέχει τη διάκριση των νοημάτων του Θεού από τα επινοήματα του σατανά.
γ) Με την ευχή αυτή ο ασκητής αρπάζει εκείνα τα νοήματα, που διευρύνουν την καρδιά και συντελούν στον αγιασμό.
δ) Η νήψη πραγματοποιείται φυσιολογικά, γιατί Εκείνος που βασιλεύει στην καρδιά είναι μείζων αυτού που είναι στον κόσμο.
ε) Περιορίζει τις αμαρτίες στο ελάχιστον και προετοιμάζει για θάνατο εν Κυρίω.
Η ριζική διαφορά του Χριστιανισμού από τις δοξασίες της Ανατολής έγκειται στο ότι η ευχή του Ιησού είναι θεμελιωμένη στην Αποκάλυψη του Ζώντος και Προσωπικού Θεού της Αγίας Τριάδος και η εμπειρία της διαφέρει και απέχει από εκείνη των ανατολικών θρησκειών, όσο απέχει το Πνεύμα του Θεού από τη σάρκα ή το ’κτιστο από το κτιστό».
Αρχιμανδρίτου Σωφρονίου, Ιερά Πατριαρχική και Σταυροπηγιακή Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ Αγγλίας
I am continuing my mental battle with the vice of smoking, but it's still completely unsuccessful. I have to quit this filthy and stupid occupation; it is noticeably ruining my health — the gift of God — and that is a sin.
The ever-memorable Elder Ambrose once heard an admission from one of his spiritual daughters:
"Batiushka! I smoke and this is tormenting me!"
"Well," the Elder answered her, "this isn't a great misfortune, if you can quit."
"That's just the problem," she said, "I can't quit!"
"Then it's a sin," said the Elder, "and you've got to repent of it and leave off doing it."
I also have to leave off, but how do I do it? I'm consoled by the words of our Elders, who promised me freedom from this sin "when the time is right."
The late patron of Optina Monastery and spiritual friend of its great Elders, Archbishop Gregory of Kaluga, could not stand this vice among the clergy, but he was condescending towards laymen who smoked, and even towards his seminarians, before they joined the clerical staff. He categorically demanded from candidates who were preparing for ordination that they cease from this filthy habit, and he did not ordain those who smoked.
Our friend Fr. Nektary, to whom I often complained about my weakness, informed me of this. "After all," he consoled me, "you, your honor, are a layman — what's to be expected from you? But here..."
And he related the following to me:
"In the days of Archbishop Gregory, a spirit-bearing and monk-loving man, the following incident happened. A seminarian from Kaluga, who had graduated at the head of his class, and who, because of his exceptional giftedness was personally known to the Archbishop, had to prepare himself for ordination to one of the better positions in the diocese. He appeared before the Archbishop for a blessing and to set a date for the ordination. The hierarch received him with extreme affection, conversed amiably with him and, having shown fatherly kindness towards him, dismissed him, assigning a date for the ordination. However, when dismissing the candidate, he did not fail to ask him, 'Well, then, brother, do you smoke, or not?'
"'No, your Eminence,' replied the candidate, 'I don't go in for that.'
"'Well, good,' the Archbishop exclaimed joyfully, 'see what a fine fellow I've got! Well then, prepare yourself, and may the Lord bless you!'
"According to custom, the candidate bowed to the feet of the Archbishop. His frock coat flew open, and from his breast pocket cigarettes began to fall out onto the floor, one after the other.
"The Archbishop flared up in indignation. 'Who made you lie to me?' he exclaimed with great anger. 'To whom have you lied? When have you lied? When preparing to serve God in holiness and in truth?... Get out of here! There is no position for you, nor will there be one!...'
"And with that he drove the liar out of his sight.... So, your honor," added Fr. Nektary, looking at me with his always laughing, kind and affectionate gaze, "why be dejected that it's not the smell of athonite incense that comes out of your mouth? To whom are you obliged?... And, you know what?" — he exclaimed, and his face lit up with a kind smile. "You won't believe it — I myself barely avoided joining the ranks of smokers. This was back in my childhood, when I still lived at home, together with my mama.... In the whole wide world there were only the two of us, Mama and me, and there was also a cat that lived with us.... We were of a low station, and because of this we were poor: who needed people like us? Well, then, once my mama wasn't keeping an eye on me and I went ahead and borrowed some tobacco from some of my rich peers. They had no shortage of tobacco and they willingly treated everyone who wanted it. They rolled themselves a cigarette, smoked and smoked, and then stuck it in my mouth — 'Here, have a smoke!' Well, following them, I myself began to smoke. The first time I tried it I became dizzy, but I liked it all the same. Cigarette butt after cigarette butt, and I already began to get used to this mischief. I began to beg and then to borrow on credit, hoping somehow to pay it back. But what was I going to pay it back with, when my own mother lived, as they say, from bread to kvass, and there wasn't always plenty of bread.... Then my mama began to notice the smell of tobacco coming from me....
"'What's this, Kolya (my name in the world was Nicholas) — you haven't begun to smoke, have you?'
"'What do you mean, Mommy,' I would say, 'I hardly think so!'
"And I would quickly move aside, as if I were doing something. It went that way once, then another time, and then I got caught. Once I had barely managed to inhale some borrowed tobacco on the sly, when suddenly, there was Mama.
"'Were you just smoking?' she asked.
"Again I said, 'No, Mama.'
"But where did I get 'no' from? I reeked of tobacco from way off. Mama didn't say a word to me then, but she gazed at me with such a sorrowful look that you could say that my whole soul was overturned within me. She went away from me somewhere to do the housework, and I hid in a secluded corner and began to weep inconsolably, that I had grieved Mama. And not only had I grieved her, I had deceived her and lied on top of that. I can't express how painful this was for me! The day passed, night came, and my mind sought for sleep. I lay in my bed and whimpered, lay and whimpered.... Mama heard it.
"'What is it, Kolya — you're not crying, are you?'
"'Why aren't you sleeping?'
"And with these words, Mama got up, lit the lamp and came over to me. My face was all wet with tears and my pillow was soaked....
"And what happened between us then!... We both had a good cry and were reconciled. Having a good cry with one so dear, how nicely we were reconciled!
"And thus ended my mischief with smoking."
Elder Nektary of Optina
Man is a composite being, made up of an earthly body and celestial soul... The soul is closely united with the body, yet wholly independent of it.
Man is not only reason but also heart. The powers of these two centers, mutually assisting one another, render man perfect and teach him what he could never learn through reason alone. If reason teaches about the natural world, the heart teaches us about the supernatural world... Man is perfect when he has developed both his heart and his intellect. Now the heart is developed through revealed religion.
Saint Nektarios of Aegina
A terrible accident has a power to awaken us to the realization of the existence of various calamities and dangers surrounding us, from which the Providence of God preserves us. At the same time it convincingly persuades us to acknowledge our own infirmity and weakness and to seek the Father's protection and His most powerful defense, which affirms us in the Wisdom and the Word of God, which came down from above by the will of the Heavenly Father under a curtain of flesh like ours, woven by the Divine Might from the Immaculate Virgin, for our salvation. He became man and taught us to pray that we be not led into temptation. This reminds us from what Father we have our existence, and this in turn should make us seek our heavenly Fatherland and our eternal inheritance.
St. Herman of Alaska