Sunday, October 7, 2012


Love of Christ is Love of the Church

Christ created the Church on earth as His body with Him as the head. To love Christ is to love His Church. Elder Porphyrios says the Church is “exactly the same as Paradise in heaven.” All souls are one in His Church.

Elder Porphyrios says

Love, worship of and craving for God, the union with Christ and with the Church is Paradise on earth.
The services of the Church are the way we can express our love for Him and He His love for us.

He says,
The divine services of the Church are words in which we converse and speak to God with our worship and with our love. The hours spent closest to paradise are the hours spent in the church together with all our brethren when we celebrate the divine Liturgy, when we sin and when we receive Holy communion.
How do we show our passion for Him? When we love Christ we enthusiastically observe the formal aspects of the church, the services, and are eager to participate in the sacraments especially the sacrament of Holy Communion. We enthusiastically come to church to express our love for our lover.

He says,
The divine services are a very great affair. The precondition is for everything to be done with eros, with interest and with a sincere disposition to worship Christ--not as a chore and not perfunctorily, but with eros and divine enthusiasm.
Worship must spring from the whole soul and whole heart. What does this mean? Your only thought must be God… It is not something that is done under duress. You feel a spiritual delight and pleasure. It’s not like the homework a child does for school. It is like the passionate love between people, but higher and spiritual.

Above all, the sacrament of Holy Communion is an act of Divine Love. This is an act of joining in ecstatic union with Him.

Elder Ephriam of Arizona writes about the splendor of the Divine Liturgy.
The Divine Liturgy, what a splendor indeed! Man has been honored by God in such a way that He Himself comes down to earth with His Angelic Orders every time there is a Liturgy, in order to nurture man with His Most Holy Body and His Most Precious Blood! For He has given us everything. Is there anything physical or spiritual, perishable or everlasting, that has not been offered to us? None! Is there anything superior to His Most Holy Body and Blood, which is given to us on a daily basis? There is certainly not. God has enabled man, who is full of soil and dirt, to serve the Divine Liturgy. So priceless is the Divine Love that just a tiny drop exceeds any earthly, physical and secular love.
The Orthodox faith is all about Love.

Elder Porphyrios says,
Our religion is love, it is eros, it is enthusiasm, it is madness, it is longing for the divine. All these things are within us. Our soul demands that we attain them.

Reference: Wounded by Love, pp 90, 92, 165, 166

How Does God Love? ( Elder Porphyrios )

"We will not be able to know Christ unless He knows us." Elder Porphyrios
Doesn't God know all of us? What does the Elder mean here? To explain he quotes Saint Paul: "Now that you have known God, or rather are known by God..."(Gal 4:9). He is equating God's knowledge of us to our knowing God. He is trying to explain something that is mystical, our relationship with God. If we don't know God we cant really say that God knows us. It's like calling someone a good friend who we have never met or only passed on the street. How can that person knows us if we have not made the effort to develop a loving relationship?

He continues,
Nor can we love Him unless He loves us. Christ will not love us if we are not worthy for Him to love us. In order for Him to love us, He must discover something special in us.
But again you will say, God is love and he loves us unconditionally. What is it He must discover. It must have something to do with how we choose to use our free will. Without our love and willful surrender to do His will, we will not experience His love, we will knot know Him. We need to open the door so He can enter. This is what we must discover in us. The Elder calls it humility. He is saying that Gods' love, His grace that brings joy only comes when we humble ourselves and allow His grace to work from within our soul. His grace is there always, but not given without us loving Him.

He continues,
You may desire, demand, struggle and entreat, but you receive nothing. You prepare yourself to acquire those things which Christ desires in order for divine grace to enter you, but cannot enter when that special ingredient you require is lacking. What is that? It is humility. Without humility, we cannot love Christ...humility and selflessness in the worship of God...
Our challenge to get to the point described by Saint Paul: "It is no longer I who live; Christ lives in me. (Gal 2:20)

Quotes from Wounded By Love, p 109-110.

How Can We Love When Someone Harms Us? ( Saint Porphyrios )

First, we should never expect others to speak to us politely. This expectation is an ego-centric trait of ours. We need to let other speak as they wish . Elder Porphyrios says, “we shouldn’t become beggars for love. Our aim should be to love them and pray for them with all our soul.”

But what do we do when someone injures us with slanders or insults. This is a difficult teaching. Here is how Elder Porphyrios approaches it.

When someone injures us in whatever way, whether with slander or with insults, we should think of him as our brother who has been taken hold of by the enemy…. We need to have compassion for him and entreat God to have mercy both on us and on him… A person who condemns others does not love Christ. Our egoism is at fault.
He gives us an example:
Let’s suppose someone is all alone in the desert. Suddenly he hears a voice crying out in distress in the distance. He follows the sound and is confronted by a horrendous sight: a tiger has grabbed hold of a man and is savaging him with his claws. The man is desperately shouting for help. In a few minutes he will be torn to pieces. What can the person do to help? Can he run to his side? How? It is impossible. Can he shout for help? Who will hear him? There is no one within earshot. Should he perhaps pick up a stone and throw it at the man to finish him off? Certainly not, we would say. But that is exactly what can happen if we don’t realize that the other person who is acting badly towards us has been taken hold of by a tiger, the devil. We fail to realize that when we react to such a person without love it is as if we are throwing stones at his wounds and accordingly we are doing him great harm and the “tiger” leaps onto us and we to the same as him and worse. What kind of love do we have then for our neighbor and even more importantly, for God?.. We should regard our brethren with sympathy and behave with courtesy towards them, repeating in our hearts with simplicity the prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ,” so that the grace of God may strengthen our soul and so that we don't pass judgment on anyone.
Our task when we are injured and we see an vice in another person is to inundate him or her with the grace of God and have the upmost compassion so he or she may be healed.
In everything, do to others what you would want them to do to you. This is what is written in the Law and in the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

Reference: Wounded By Love, pp 182 - 183

Οταν ο άνθρωπος ταπεινωθεί,θα έρθει οπωσδήποτε η Χάρις του Θεού ( Γεροντας Παισιος )

- Σκοπός είναι να καταλάβης την υπερηφάνεια πρίν πέσης.΄Οταν σου λέη κάποιος ότι έκανες κάτι καλό,να μην αισθάνεσαι ικανοποίηση.Να μην πιάνη,να μην κολλάη επάνω σου ο έπαινος.
- Τι θα με βοηθούσε σ΄αυτό ;
- Το να γνωρίσης τον εαυτό σου.Αν ο άνθρωπος γνωρίσει τον εαυτό του,τελείωσε.Οι έπαινοι είναι μετά ξένα σώματα΄δεν κολλάνε επάνω του.΄

Οταν λ.χ. ένας ξέρη ότι είναι γύφτος,δεν μπορεί να του κολλήση ο λογισμός ότι είναι βασιλιάς.Κι εσύ,αν νομίζης ότι είσαι πριγκίπισσα,θα είσαι λειψή.
- ΄Αν είμαι έτοιμη εκ των προτέρων να μην δέχωμαι τον έπαινο,αυτό θα με βοηθούσε;
- Αυτό φυσικά πρέπει να γίνεται,αλλά άλλοτε θα είσαι έτοιμη άλλοτε όχι.Σκοπός είναι να γνωρίσης τον εαυτό σου.

Αν δεν γνωρίση κανείς τον παλαιό του άνθρωπο,δεν ταπεινώνεται και δεν μπορεί να γίνη η πνευματική διάσπαση του ατόμου του,για να μπη στην πνευματική τροχιά,και παραμένει στην κοσμική τροχιά.
- Μπορεί,Γέροντα, να γνωρίζω τον εαυτό μου λανθασμένα ;
- Μα δεν μιλάμε για λανθασμένη κατάσταση.Αυτός που γνωρίζει σωστά τον εαυτό του έχει ταπείνωση.Και όταν ο άνθρωπος ταπεινωθή,θα έρθη οπωσδήποτε η Χάρις του Θεού.-


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