Sunday, February 9, 2014
Ο Γέροντας εξαγιαζόταν αγαπώντας. Μια μέρα μου είπε: «Όταν αγαπούμε το Χριστό, τα αμαρτωλά μας πάθη υποχωρούν μόνα τους, χάνουν τη δύναμή τους, μπροστά στη δύναμη της αγάπης. Όταν ξημερώσει και φωτίσει το δωμάτιό μας ο ήλιος, το σκοτάδι φεύγει, δεν μπορεί να μείνει».
I heard of one person that when he came to one of his friends and found the room in disarray and even dirty, he would say to himself: "Blessed is this person, because having deferred his concerns for earthly cares, he has concentrated his mind that much toward Heaven, that he doesn’t even have time to tidy up his room." But when he came to another friend’s place and found his room tidy and neat, he would say to himself; "The soul of this person is as clean as his room, and the condition of the room speaks of his soul." And he never judged another that he was negligent or proud, but through his kind disposition, saw good in everyone and received benefits from everyone. May the good Lord grant us the same kind disposition, so that we too may receive benefits from everyone and so that we never notice the failings of others.
The main thing to avoid when meeting people is to be suspicious — from which comes adjudgment. I have many examples, which prove that everyone judges others according to his spiritual circumstance. For example, imagine that it was necessary for a person to stand by the roadside at night, and walking past him were three people. On seeing him, one of the three would think that he is waiting for an illicit rendezvous; another would imagine him to be undoubtedly a thief — he looks suspicious; the third would think that no doubt the person arranged to go to church with someone and was now waiting for him. Thus, the three saw the same person, in the same place, but concluded about him entirely differently. And this evidently, corresponds to their spiritual situation. Just as a sick body converts any food it ingests — even though it might be most nutritional — into harmful juices, so does a soul with corrupted morals, receive harm from any matter that it has dealings with, even from the very good. But the one who has good morals is like a person with a healthy system, who even if he consumes something that is not completely healthy, will still convert it into healthy juices. If we will have good morals and build ourselves up correctly, so will we be able to receive spiritual benefits from every matter.
To annoy, judge and spoil — whose works are they other than the devil’s? And we appear as the demons’ helpers — to our and our neighbor’s perdition. Why is it so? Because there is no love within us! Because "love will cover a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8). The Saints don’t judge a sinner and do not turn away from him, but commiserate with him, grieve for him, enlighten, console, administer to him like a sick part of a body, and do everything to save him.
There must be an endeavor to completely purge the inner pus, so that the affected area would heal in such a way as to be free of any remaining ugliness and it would be completely impossible to recognize it as the area where the wound existed. How can you achieve this? By praying with all your heart for the offender, saying: "Lord, help me and my brother for the sake of his prayers!" Praying in this fashion for your neighbor, the person shows compassion and love simultaneously. Asking help for yourself, for the sake of his prayers, mollifies him. And where there is compassion, love and humility, can there be irritation, rancor or any other type of passion? And Abba Zosima said: "If the devil raises all the wiles of his hatred, together with all his demons, they will all shatter and disappear against humility — according to Christ’s commandments."
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).
Τι σημαίνει σωτηρία; Ο θάνατος του σώματος είναι άραγε η προϋπόθεση για την είσοδο στη Βασιλεία του Χριστού; Πως μπορούμε να αναπτύξουμε την ικανότητά μας να ζούμε σύμφωνα με τις εντολές του Χριστού, σύμφωνα με το Αγιο Πνεύμα; Ενα μόνο έχει σημασία: να φυλάξουμε την ένταση της προσευχής και της μετάνοιας. Τότε ο θάνατος δε θα είναι ρήξη, αλλά μετάβαση στη Βασιλεία, για την οποία θα έχουμε ετοιμασθεί με την κοινωνία του Σώματος και του Αίματος του Χριστού, με την προσευχή και την επίκληση του Ονόματός Του: «Κύριε, Ιησού Χριστέ, ο θεός ημών, ελέησον ημάς και τον κόσμον Σου».
Γέροντας Σωφρόνιος Σαχάρωφ
Η μέθη ειναι έχθρα στο Θεό· η νηστεία δε, αρχή της μετανοίας. Εάν λοιπόν θέλεις με την εξομολόγηση να γυρίσεις στο Θεό, να αποφεύγεις την μέθη, για να μην σου κάμει δυσκολότερη την αποξένωση.
Δεν αρκεί βεβαίως μόνον η αποχή από τις τροφές, για την επαινετή νηστεία, αλλ'ας νηστεύσουμε νηστεία δεκτή, ευάρεστη στο Θεό.
Αληθινή νηστεία είναι η αποξένωση από το κακό, η εγκράτεια της γλώσσας, η αποχή από το θυμό, ο χωρισμός από τις επιθυμίες, την καταλαλιά, το ψεύδος, την ψευδορκία.
H στέρηση από αυτά είναι αληθινή νηστεία. Μέσα σ' αυτά λοιπόν η νηστεία είναι αγαθό.
Oι δοκιμασίες κάνουν καλό. Μη φοβηθείς.
Ό Χριστός μας σαράντα μέρες αγωνίσθηκε στην ερημον, αλλά έπειτα Άγγελοι τον υπηρετούσαν.
Είναι πολύ στοργικός ο Χριστός μας.
Συχνά, για ωφέλειά μας, επιτρέπει και δυνατή λύπην. Για λίγο νοιώθουμε πώς μας εγκατέλειψε, αλλά μετά επειδή λυπάται, μας αγαπά, μας πνίγει το έλεος Του, ή στοργή Του.
Μη φοβηθείς ποτέ, μόνον αγάπα τον Χριστό μας.