Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Is God Trying to Get our Attention with the Floods, Earthquakes, and Heat?

I was recently asked to write something about earthquakes and other natural disasters. What do they mean from a spiritual view point? Are they an indication of God's dissatisfaction with us? Or, are they just random occurrences due to the unguided forces of nature?

My first thought was to avoid this question. I sensed that my own personal views might be at odds with the teachings of the Church. Without thinking very deeply about this, I would fall in the camp of those who say they are just random unfortunate events. This is an easy way to explain them away and say they have no spiritual meaning. My deeper spirit pushed me on to find a better answer based on the teachings of the Church. After all, there are many such lessons in Scripture and everything we do has a spiritual meaning.

The Orthodox view begins with the belief that all happens with the awareness of God. He is all powerful, Creator of all. If he wanted, he could prevent any natural calamity. Secondly, we believe that all God does is out of love for us. So, in understanding a natural disaster we have to realize that God lets them happen out of His Love for us. This Love wants to bring us into union with him with eternal life in Paradise as we were originally created.

Here are a few thoughts from the Wisdom of our Church Fathers:

St. Isaac the Syrian:

A time of trial is beneficial to everyone: the diligent are tried so that their wealth may increase; the lax, so that they may be preserved from harm; those spiritually asleep, so that they may prepare themselves for watchfulness; those whose who are far from God, so that they approach Him; those who are God’s close associates, so that they may come closer to Him in freedom of speech.

 St. Basil the Great says,

If no one makes an effort to repent over the causes of woeful manifestations: why there is drought, why rain, why thunderbolts, why hail? This is for us, who have unrepentant hearts, and who have not been converted until we are stricken. St. John Chrysostom speaks also about the need to correct our lives and place our hope in God:

"Leave to God the time for the end of calamity, and we shall only pray; we ourselves shall live piously; for it is our affair to turn to virtue, while it is God's affair to stop calamities.”

In another work, this great preacher warns:

”God is powerful to stop all catastrophes, but until He sees our conversion, He does not put a stop to our woes.”

Elder Paisios when asked, "Why God does allow a calamity to happen?" responded.:

There are all kinds of reasons. Sometimes God will allow something to happen so that something better may come out of it, and other times He wants to educate us. Some people are rewarded and others pay a debt; nothing is wasted. You know, whatever God allows, even when human being perish, it is done out of love for man, because God has a "heart." 

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica says,

By thoughts man often disturbs the order of creation. That is how the first people were destroyed––in a flood––because of their evil thoughts and intentions. This is true even today; our thoughts are evil, and therefore we do not bear good fruit. We must change. 

Saint Paul says,

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Romans 5: 3-5) From the Priest's Prayer for calamities

" O Lord Who alone art rich in mercy, and in the loving kindness of Thy goodness dost hearken to the supplication of us, Thy sinful and unworthy servants, arranging and directing us all toward our benefit, guiding our life by Thy wise providence, and in every way desiring our salvation; Who by nature art long-suffering and great in mercy; Who dost chastise and healest again; Who dost rebuke gently and with love for man, not to destroy the work of Thy hands, but to bring it to its primal goodness and to its original nobility, which we have destroyed in the feebleness of our understanding and by the counsel of the most accursed one;... Still Thy wrath, O Lord; absolve, O Lord; have mercy, O Lord, and forsake us not utterly because of our iniquities, neither punish Thou others with our wounds. Grant that we may become chaste through the sufferings of others. " Calamities and natural disasters are a mystery to mankind beyond our full comprehension. We only know the tribulation and suffering that occur because of them. We must remember that we live in a fallen world that is dominated by sin. The aim of life on this earth is to perfect our souls so that we will be saved, that we will find union with God, and live with Him eternally. What happens in this fallen world, death, sickness, natural disasters and all kinds of trials and tribulations make up the fire that purifies us.

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess 5: 16-18)

Trust in God for All Things - Elder Paisios

Often we feel a conflict from the instruction we receive that tells us to just trust in God and not in our own efforts to take care of ourselves. It seems thought, that if we do not take care of ourselves we become dependent on the handouts and generosity of others and we lose our independence and our self-dignity. So what does it mean to trust in God for all things? This instruction seems a bit counter intuitive.

Elder Paisios says the following,

When we believe in God and have trust in His fatherly providence and concern, then we do not think of ourselves; instead we know that God is aware of our needs and looks after our problems, from the simplest to the most serious one. The only things we must want is to allow God’s love and providence to function for us. When we have this kind of faith and inner disposition, we are able to see God’s miracles––God himself––who is always close to us under all circumstances. I order to experience this we must reject any form of worldly assistance or human hope, and with a pure heart, unhesitatingly and trustfully devote our mind to God. Then the grace of Christ will fill our souls at once.

But, what about our well intended efforts to amass material wealth to protect us in the future, our children’s education, our retirement and so forth?

He continues,

Some people have the wrong impression, however; they think they can be involved in worldly matters and be attached to material possessions, and at the same time, expect the help of God’s providence. God’s help to people who think this way can be destructive, for it prolongs their attachment to worldly things. God helps them by letting them be exposed to temptations and difficulties; this will eventually make them loath worldly matters and totally devote their hearts to God.

I have observed this at work at a local monastery. Three nuns came from Greece without any money and only a small suitcase with a few belongings. This was five years ago. Now they live on a 100 acres plot with a beautiful chapel, a guesthouse, and a residence for four or five nuns. They have no debts. In addition there are fully equipped workshops, a large garden and a mini farm with animals. They pray and work diligently giving priority to hospitality. They earn enough for basic needs by making icons and selling religious items to those who visit. But untold times, when cash was needed it showed up at the right time. There was no campaign to raise money. They do not worry about money and trust totally in the God to provide whatever they need knowing that He provides for their needs. And He does.

I cant say this is how I live my life as I rely on a retirement fund to protect me in my older years. I have numerous insurance policies for health, auto and home. Although, I have experienced as I let go of accumulated wealth, God does provide in new ways.

A final thought from the Elder,

We must totally rely on God’s providence as this is the only way to be relieved of our anxiety and worries... To trust divine providence one must free himself from all worldly concerns and wait for God to look after him.... He must overcome his love for money and trust in it and then rest all his hopes on God and he cannot do both at the same time.

With this I struggle.

Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, pp71-73

How to Recognize Vainglory- Elder Paisios

Often in our spiritual practice we find ourselves struggling. We try and try but the effort seems so hard. What is the problem? Why do we often feel anxious that our efforts do not yield the results we seek? Why does God seem distant and unreachable even when we try so hard?

Elder Paisios gives us some insight into this common problem.

He says,
We need to be careful in our spiritual life. When spiritual people are affected by vainglory, they feel very little satisfaction, and they are left with a sense of emptiness in their heart. There is no fulfillment, no rejoicing of the heart, and as their vanity increases, the emptiness inside makes them suffer even more. Where there is anxiety and despair, there is a demonic spiritual life. You should not feel anxiety over anything at all. Anxiety comes from the devil. Wherever you see anxiety, you must know that the devil has been at work. The devil will not go against the current. If there is a predisposition, he will push in that direction in order to cause us trouble and deceive us.
When in the course of our spiritual struggle we feel anxiety we must know that we are not moving within the realm of God...
In other words, one should not strive with an unhealthy fastidiousness... Christ is full of love, kindness and consolation and He never stifles, but gives abundant oxygen and divine consolation.
So what do we do to avoid this condition. We must be kind to ourselves and accept that we are prone to make mistakes, to be tired. We need to have humility and set aside our self-proclaimed righteousness depending on our own efforts.

Elder Paisios advises us to live the spiritual life not in our minds, but in our hearts. He says,
Never do a job without putting your trust in God with great humility, because otherwise you will agonize and you will tire your mind and soul. It is a lack of faith that hides behind anxiety, but pride can cause anxiety also.
If you cannot complete your required prayer rule, don't force yourself through your own efforts. Relax and turn to God. If it is because you are too tired to complete it, ask God's forgiveness and get some sleep. Then the next day arrange your schedule so that you will not be in this same condition again. Entrust everything to God and God will guide you.

The Elder tells us to keep the mind always close to God. This applies to all situations where you are having difficulty in completing your task. Trust in God and seek His help.

When we try through our own efforts and feel anxiety, this is the sign of vainglory.

Μεγάλη ἡ ὠφέλεια ἀπὸ τὰ Σαρανταλείτουργα (Γέροντας Φιλόθεος Ζερβάκος)

Τὸ ἀξιοπρόσεκτο γεγονὸς ποὺ ἀκολουθεῖ σὲ ἐλαφρὰ διασκευὴ τῆς γλώσσης τὸ ἀναφέρει ὁ διακριτικότατος ἀσκητὴς Δανιὴλ Κατουνακιώτης σὲ ἐπιστολή του πρὸς τὸν Ἀλέξανδρον Μωραϊτίδην. Ἔχει δὲ ὡς ἑξῆς:

Ἕνας γνωστός του καὶ ἐνάρετος οἰκογενιάρχης ἀπὸ τὴν Σμύρνη, ποὺ τὸν ἔλεγαν Δημήτριο, ἀφοῦ κατάλαβε τὸ τέλος του κάλεσε τὸν υἱόν του Γεώργιο, ὁ μόνος εὐσεβῆς, διότι τὰ ἄλλα τρία του παιδιὰ καὶ ἡ γυναίκα του ζοῦσαν μὲ κοσμικότητα, καὶ τοῦ ἀπεκάλυψε ὅσα ἀκολουθοῦν, καὶ τὰ ὁποῖα ὁ υἱός του ὁ πιστὸς φανέρωσε εἰς τὸν π. Δανιήλ.

Ἀφοῦ ὁ πατέρας μου ἔφθασε εἰς τὸ τέλος αὐτῆς τῆς ζωῆς καὶ ἐγνώρισε τὴν ἡμέρα τοῦ θανάτου του, ἐκείνην τὴν ἡμέρα ἐκάλεσε ἕνα σεβάσμιο ἱερέα, ποὺ τὸν ἔλεγαν Δημήτριον, ἄνθρωπον πολὺ ἁπλὸν καὶ ἐνάρετον, εἰς τὸν ὁποῖον μὲ πολλὴ εὐλάβεια εἶπε· «ἐγὼ πνευματικέ μου πάτερ, σήμερα πεθαίνω, καὶ παρακαλῶ ὁδήγησέ με σὲ αὐτὴν τὴν κρίσιμη στιγμὴ τί ὀφείλω νὰ πράξω;» ὁ δὲ ἱερεὺς γνωρίζοντας τὴν θεάρεστον ζωὴν τοῦ πατέρα μου καὶ ὅτι ἦταν σὲ ὅλα ἕτοιμος, διότι εἶχαν προηγηθῆ τὰ πραγματικὰ ἐφόδια, δηλαδὴ ἐξομολόγησις, εὐχέλαιο, συχνὲς ἱερὲς μεταλήψεις, ἐπειδὴ ἕνεκα ποὺ διετέλεσε πολλὲς ἡμέρες ἄρρωστος μεταλάμβανε συνεχῶς ἀπὸ τὰ ἄχραντα μυστήρια τοῦ Χριστοῦ, τὸν ὑπέδειξε ἕνα ἀκόμη νὰ κάμη· «ἐὰν ἦταν εὔκολο νὰ δώσης ἐντολὴ νὰ σοῦ κάμουν μετὰ τὸν Θάνατό σου ἕνα τακτικὸν 40λείτουργον στὸ ὄνομά σου, τὸ ὁποῖο νὰ ἐκτέλεση κάποιος ἱερεὺς μακρὰν τῆς πόλεως» ἐγὼ δὲ ἂν καὶ ἄπορος ἔδωσα ὕποσχεσι, ὅτι μὲ πολὺ προθυμία θὰ ἐκτελέσω αὐτό, ἀρκεῖ μόνον νὰ λάβω τὴν εὐχή του, τὴν ὁποία καὶ ἐπῆρα.

Αὐτὰ ἀφοῦ ἄκουσε καὶ εὐχαριστηθεὶς ὁ πατέρας μου μὲ προσκάλεσε μὲ πολλὴ συγκίνησι καὶ δάκρυα, καὶ μὲ παρεκάλεσε νὰ τὸν κάμω μετὰ τὸν θάνατό του ἕνα 40λείτουργον.

Μετὰ ἀπὸ διάστημα δυὸ ὡρῶν ἀπέθανε ὁ ἀείμνηστος πατέρας μου καὶ ἀμέσως προσκάλεσα τὸν ἱερέα Δημήτριον, χωρὶς νὰ γνωρίζω ὅτι ὁ ἴδιος εἶχε ὑποβάλλει τὸ ζήτημα τοῦ 40λείτουργου εἰς τὸν πατέρα μου, καὶ λέγω εἰς αὐτόν. Ἐπειδὴ ὁ πατέρας μου μοῦ ἔδωσε ἐντολὴ νὰ τὸν κάμω ἕνα τακτικὸ 40λείτουργο ἔξω τῆς πόλεως καὶ ἐπειδὴ ἡ αἰδεσιμότης σου ἡσυχάζεις εἰς τὸν ἔξω τῆς πόλεως ναΐσκο τῶν Ἅγιων Ἀποστόλων, δι᾿ αὐτὸ σὲ παρακαλῶ νὰ λάβης τὸν κόπον καὶ νὰ φροντίσης τὴν ἐκτέλεσι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐγὼ θὰ πληρώσω τὸν κόπον σου καὶ τὰ σχετικὰ μὲ τὰ ἔξοδα τοῦ ἱεροῦ Ναοῦ. Ὁ ἱερεὺς ὅταν ἄκουσε αὐτὰ μοῦ ἀπάντησε μὲ δάκρυα στὰ μάτια. Ἐγώ, ἀγαπητέ μου Γεώργιε, ἔχω δώσει σήμερα στὸν πατέρα σου τὴν γνώμη αὐτή, καὶ ὀφείλω ὅσο ζῶ νὰ τὸν μνημονεύω πάντοτε.

Ἐγὼ δὲ γνωρίσας τὴν πολλὴ εὐλάβεια τοῦ ἱερέως καὶ τὴν ἐκτίμησι τὴν ὁποίαν εἶχε πρὸς τὸν πατέρα μου ἐπέμενα παρακαλώντας καὶ ἔτσι τὸν ἔπεισα νὰ δεχθῆ τὴν πρότασί μου, καὶ ἐπῆγε στὸ σπίτι του, πρὸς τὴν πρεσβυτέρα καὶ τὶς κόρες του καὶ λέγει πρὸς αὐτὲς «ἐγὼ ἐπειδὴ θὰ κάνω τακτικὸν 40λείτουργον στὸ ὄνομα τοῦ καλοῦ ἐκείνου εὐεργέτου μου Δημητρίου, δι᾿ αὐτὸ ἐπὶ 40 ἡμέρες νὰ μὴ μὲ περιμένετε ἐδῶ, διότι θὰ ἡσυχάζω συνέχεια εἰς τὸν ἱερὸν Ναὸν τῶν Ἁγίων Ἀποστόλων, γιὰ νὰ ἐξακολουθῶ τακτικώτατα τὸ 40λείτουργο», καὶ ἔτσι ἐπῆγε καὶ ἄρχισε μὲ εὐλάβεια καὶ προθυμία τὸ 40λείτουργον. Ἔγιναν 39 Θεῖες Λειτουργίες καλῶς, τὴν παραμονὴ δὲ τῆς τελευταίας, Σάββατο βράδυ, ξαφνικὰ παρουσιάστηκε σφοδρὸς πονόδοντος στὸν ἱερέα καὶ ἀναγκάστηκε τὴν νύκτα νὰ ἔλθη μὲ πόνους στὸ σπίτι του, καὶ προσκάλεσε ἡ πρεσβυτέρα τὸν κουρέα καὶ τοῦ ἔβγαλε τὸ σάπιο δόντι καὶ ἔτσι ἔγλυτωσε ἀπὸ τοὺς πόνους. Λόγω ὅμως ποὺ ἔτρεχε αἷμα ἀπεφάσισε νὰ συμπλήρωση τὴν τελευταία Θεία Λειτουργία τὴν ἑπομένη.

Ὁ Γεώργιος ὅμως μὴ γνωρίζοντας τὴν πάθησι τοῦ ἱερέως τὴν παραμονὴν ἐκείνη ἑτοίμασε, μὲ δάνειο, τὸ ὀφειλόμενον ποσόν, γιὰ τὸν κόπον τοῦ ἱερέως μὲ σκοπὸ νὰ τὸ ἐπιδώση τὴν ἑπομένη. Κατὰ τὰ μεσάνυκτα ὅμως ἐκείνου τοῦ Σαββάτου, ἐσηκώθηκα νὰ προσευχηθῶ. Προσευχόμενος δὲ μὲ πολλὴ κατάνυξι καὶ ἀφοῦ κουράστηκα ἐκάθησα στὸ κρεββάτι καὶ ἄρχισα νὰ ἐνθυμοῦμαι τὶς ἀρετὲς τοῦ πατέρα μου καὶ τὶς παρεκτροπὲς καὶ παιδικές μου παρακοὲς ποὺ εἶχα κάνει κατὰ καιρούς, καὶ συνάμα ἔλεγα στὸν ἑαυτό μου, ἄραγε ὠφελεῖ τὸ 40λείτουργον τὴν ψυχὴν τοῦ κεκοιμημένου ἢ χάριν μικρῆς ἀνακουφίσεως ἡ Ἐκκλησία τοῦ Χριστοῦ αὐτὸ ἔχει συστήσει; Αὐτὰ σκεπτόμενος μὲ πόνο ψυχῆς καὶ δάκρυα, καὶ ἐκζητώντας τὸ ἔλεος τοῦ Θεοῦ, μοῦ φάνηκε ὅτι κοιμήθηκα λίγο, καὶ ἀμέσως βρέθηκα σὲ μιὰ πεδιάδα ὡραιότατη, τῆς ὁποίας ἡ ὀμορφιὰ ἦταν ἀπερίγραπτος, μὴ ἔχουσα σύγκρισι μὲ τὰ εὐχάριστα τοῦ κόσμου. Ἐνῶ εὑρισκόμουν ἐκεῖ μοῦ ἐπῆλθε φόβος πολύς, ποὺ ὑπαγορευόταν ἀπὸ τὴν συνείδησί μου, ἐπειδὴ ἐγνώρισα τὸν ἑαυτό μου ἀκατάλληλον διὰ τὴν ἐκεῖ ἀπόλαυσι. Καὶ ἐνῶ διατελοῦσα κάτω ἀπὸ αὐτὴν τὴν ἀμηχανία, μὲ ἦλθε θάρρος καὶ εἶπα εἰς τὸν ἑαυτόν μου, μιὰ καὶ ὁ Πανάγαθος Θεὸς ἠθέλησε νὰ μὲ φέρη ἐδῶ ἴσως ἡ ἀγαθότητά Του μὲ ἐλεήση καὶ στὴν συνέχεια μετανοήσω, διότι ὅπως βλέπω εὑρίσκομαι μαζὶ μὲ τὸ σῶμα μου.

Αὐτὰ συζητώντας μὲ τὸν ἑαυτό μου καὶ παρηγορηθείς, εἶδα μικρὸ φῶς διαυγέστατο, καὶ ἀφοῦ ἐπῆγα πρὸς τὸ μέρος ἐκεῖνο, εἶδα μὲ ἀνέκφραστη ἔκπληξι τὴν ἀπερίγραπτη ἐκείνη ὡραιότητα τοῦ ἀπέραντου δάσους, ποὺ ἀπόπνεε ἄρρητη εὐωδία. Ὢ ποία μακαριότης ἀναμένει ἐκείνους ποῦ ζοῦν ἐνάρετα εἰς τὸν κόσμον;

Ἀναθεωρώντας δὲ μὲ μεγάλη ἔκπληξι καὶ χαρὰ τὴν ὑπερκόσμια ἐκείνη ὡραιότητα εἶδα ἕνα ὡραιότατο παλάτι... ὅταν δὲ πλησίασα κοντὰ βλέπω μὲ πολλὴ ἀγαλλίαση τὸν πατέρα μου Δημήτριον, λαμπροφόρο καὶ γεμάτον ὅλο φῶς, ὁ ὁποῖος ἐστέκετο μπροστὰ σὲ ἐκείνη τὴν πόρτα τοῦ παλατιοῦ, καὶ ἀφοῦ μὲ ἀτένισε μὲ πατρικὴ στοργὴ καὶ τὴν γνωστή του ἐπιείκεια καὶ πραότητα, μοῦ εἶπε: «πῶς ἦλθες ἐδῶ παιδί μου;» ἐγὼ δὲ τὸν ἀπήντησα, «καὶ ἐγὼ, πατέρα μου, ἀπορῶ, διότι ὅπως βλέπω δὲν εἶμαι ἄξιος διὰ τὸν τόπο. Ἀλλὰ πές μου, πατέρα μου, πῶς εὑρίσκεσαι ἐδῶ καὶ σὲ ποιὸν ἀνήκει τὸ παλάτι αὐτό;». Ἐκεῖνος δὲ μὲ πολλὴ φαιδρότητα μοῦ εἶπε: «Ἡ ἄκρα τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἀγαθότης διὰ πρεσβειῶν τῆς Κυρίας ἡμῶν Θεοτόκου, εἰς τὴν ὁποίαν εἶχα, ὅπως εἶναι γνωστόν, μεγίστην εὐλάβειαν, μὲ ἠξίωσε νὰ καταταχθῶ εἰς τὸ μέρος αὐτό. Εἰς αὐτὸ δὲ τὸ παλάτι ἤθελον εἴσελθη σήμερον, ἀλλ᾿ ἐπειδὴ ὁ οἰκοδόμος αὐτοῦ ἔβγαλε σήμερον τὸ δόντι του καὶ δὲν ἐτελείωσαν αἱ 40ντα ἡμέραι τῆς οἰκοδομῆς αὐτοῦ, δι᾿ αὐτὸ αὔριο θὰ εἰσέλθω».

Ὅταν εἶδα καὶ ἄκουσα αὐτὰ ἐγὼ ὁ ἐλάχιστος ἐξύπνησα μὲ ἔκπληξι καὶ γεμάτος δάκρυα ἐθαύμαζα δι᾿ ὅλα ὅσα εἶδα. Ὅλη ἐκείνη τὴν νύκτα ἔμεινα ἄυπνος εὐχαριστῶν καὶ δοξολογῶν τὸν Πανάγαθον Θεόν... Τὴν ἑπόμενη ἡμέρα ἐπῆγα εἰς τὸν ἱερέα Δημήτριον καὶ τὸν εὑρῆκα νὰ κάθεται, ὁ ὁποῖος ἀφοῦ μὲ ἐδέχθηκε μὲ χαρὰ μοῦ εἶπε· «νὰ καὶ ἐγὼ πρὸ ὀλίγου ἐβγῆκα ἀπὸ τὴν λειτουργία, τελειώσας εὐτυχῶς τὸ 40λείτουργον». Αὐτὸ δὲ εἶπε διὰ νὰ μὴ μὲ λυπήση, διότι ἐμποδίστηκε μία ἡμέρα ἡ λειτουργία, τὴν ὁποίαν βέβαια ἤθελε πρόσθεση τὴν ἑπομένη. Τότε ἐγὼ ἄρχισα νὰ διηγοῦμαι εἰς τὸν ἱερέα τὰ ὅσα εἶδα μὲ λεπτομέρεια καὶ πολλὴ συγκίνησι, καὶ ὅταν ἔφθασα εἰς τὴν ἐξαγωγὴ τοῦ δοντιοῦ καὶ ὅτι τὴν ἑπομένη θὰ τελειωθῆ ἡ οἰκοδομὴ καὶ θὰ εἰσέλθη ὁ πατέρας μου εἰς τὸ παλάτι, τότε ὁ ἱερεὺς κατεληφθεῖς ἀπὸ θαυμασμὸ ἐβόησε· «ἐγώ, ἀγαπητέ μου Γεώργιε, εἶμαι ὁ οἰκοδόμος ἐκεῖνος»...

Αὐτὰ ὁ πατὴρ Δανιὴλ τὰ ἐβεβαίωσε καὶ ἀπὸ τὸν πατέρα Δημήτριον τὸν ὁποῖον ἐπεσκέφθη, ὁ ὁποῖος π. Δημήτριος μὲ παρεκάλεσε ὅπως γράψω ἀκριβῶς τὴν ὠφελιμωτάτην αὐτὴν διήγησιν. Τὸ γεγονὸς αὐτὸ ἔλαβε χῶραν ἀρχὰς τοῦ 20ου αἰῶνος.

Τὰ διδακτικὰ καὶ θαυμαστὰ ἱστορικὰ αὐτὰ γεγονότα τοῦ τεύχους αὐτοῦ προέρχονται ἀπὸ τὸ ψυχωφελεστατο βιβλίο ΟΠΤΑΣΙΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΔΙΗΓΗΣΕΙΣ ΑΠΟ ΤΗΝ ΑΛΛΗ ΖΩΗ τῶν ἐκδόσεων Ὀρθοδόξου Κυψέλης.


Αιώνιε Κύριε, Δημιουργέ των απάντων ο καλέσας με εις την ζωήν ταύτην τη ανεξερευνήτω Σου αγαθότητι· ο δους μοι την Χάριν του Βαπτίσματος και την σφραγίδα του Αγίου Πνεύματος· ο κοσμήσας με τη επιθυμία του αναζητείν Σε, τον μόνον αληθινόν Θεόν, επάκουσον της δεήσεώς μου.
Ο Θεός μου, ουκ έχω ζωήν, φως, χαράν, σοφίαν, δύναμιν άνευ Σου.
Αλλά Συ είπας τοις μαθηταίς Σου: «Πάντα όσα εάν αιτήσητε εν τη προσευχή πιστεύοντες, λήψεσθε».
Όθεν τολμώ επικαλείσθαι Σε: Καθάρισόν με από παντός μολυσμού σαρκός και πνεύματος.
Δίδαξον με πως δει προσεύχεσθαι.
Ευλόγησον την ημέραν ταύτην ήν εχάρισάς μοι, τω αναξίω δούλω Σου.
Ικάνωσόν με τη δυνάμει της Χάριτός Σου αδιαλείπτως ομιλείν και εργάζεσθαι προς την Σην δόξαν εν πνεύματι καθαρότητος, ταπεινώσεως, υπομονής, αγάπης, ευγενείας, ειρήνης, ανδρείας και σοφίας, επιγινώσκειν αεί την απανταχού παρουσίαν Σου.
Κύριε ο Θεός, δείξόν μοι την οδόν του θελήματός Σου εν τη απείρω Σου αγαθότητι και αξίωσόν με πορεύεσθαι ενώπιόν Σου χωρίς αμαρτίας.
Καρδιογνώστα Κύριε, Συ επιγινώσκεις πάσαν μου ένδειαν, Συ γινώσκεις την τυφλότητα και την άγνοιάν μου, Συ γινώσκεις την αστάθειαν και την διαφθοράν της ψυχής μου.
Αλλ’ ουδ’ ο πόνος ουδ’ η αγωνία η εμή κεκρυμμένα Σοι τυγχάνει. Επάκουσον της δεήσεώς μου και δίδαξόν με τω Πνεύματί Σου τω Αγίω, οδόν εν ή πορεύσομαι.
Μη εγκαταλείψης με, ότι η διεφθαρμένη μου θέλησις οδηγήση με προς άλλας οδούς, αλλά βιαίως επανάγαγέ με προς Σε.
Δος μοι, τη δυνάμει της Σης αγάπης, στερεωθήναι με εις το αγαθόν.
Φύλαξον με από παντός λόγου ή έργου ψυχοφθόρου, από πάσης εσωτερικής και εξωτερικής κινήσεως μη ευαρέστου ενώπιόν Σου και επιβλαβούς δια τον αδελφόν μου.
Δίδαξόν με πώς δει και τι με δει λαλείν.
Εάν το Σον θέλημα εστι του μη αποκριθήναι με δος μοι πνεύμα ειρηναίας σιωπής, αλύπου και ακινδύνου δια τον αδελφόν μου.
Νομοθέτησόν με εν τη τρίβω των εντολών Σου και έως εσχάτης μου αναπνοής μη επιτρέψης παρεκκλίναι με από του Φωτός των προσταγμάτων Σου, έως ότου καταστώσιν ο μοναδικός νόμος πάσης υπάρξεώς μου, προσκαίρου τε και αιωνίου.
Δέομαί Σου ο Θεός ελέησόν με.
Λύτρωσαί με από της θλίψεως και αθλιότητός μου και μη αποκρύψης απ’ εμού την οδόν της σωτηρίας. Εν τη αφροσύνη μου, ο Θεός, περί πολλών και μεγάλων δέομαί Σου, γινώσκων αεί την εμήν κακότητα, την αδυναμίαν και φαυλότητα κράζω Σοι: ελέησόν με.
Μη απορρίψης με από του Προσώπου Σου ένεκεν της αλαζονείας μου.
Δος και αύξησον εν εμοί τω αχρείω την δύναμιν του αγαπάν Σε, κατά τας εντολάς Σου, εξ όλης της καρδίας μου, εξ όλης της ψυχής μου, εξ όλης της διανοίας μου, εξ όλης της ισχύος μου, και δι’ όλου του είναι μου.
Ναι, ο Θεός, δίδαξόν με δικαίαν κρίσιν και γνώσιν τω Πνεύματί Σου τω Αγίω.
Δος μοι του γνώναι την Αλήθειάν Σου προτού με απελθείν εκ της ζωής ταύτης.
Παράτεινον τας ημέρας της ζωής μου έως ότου Σοι προσφέρω μετάνοιαν αληθινήν.
Μη αναγάγης με εν ημίσει ημερών μου μηδέ εν ώ ο εμός νους τετυφλωμένος εστί.
Και όταν ευδοκήσης ελθείν το τέλος της ζωής μου προγνώρισόν μοι τον θάνατον, ίνα η ψυχή μου ετοιμασθή προς συνάντησίν Σου.
Έσο μετ’ εμού, Κύριε, εν εκείνη τη ώρα τη φοβερά και απόδος μοι την αγαλλίασιν του Σωτηρίου Σου.
Καθάρισόν με από παντός αμαρτήματος φανερού και αποκρύφου, από πάσης ανομίας κεκρυμμένης εν εμοί και δώρησόν μοι καλήν απολογίαν ενώπιον του φοβερού βήματός Σου. Ο Θεός, κατά το μέγα έλεός Σου και την άμετρον φιλανθρωπίαν Σου, επάκουσον της δεήσεώς μου.

How To Cultivate Humility


"In what way, Elder, is humility cultivated?"

"Humility is cultivated through our pursuit of honorable acts and is also cultivated with the manure of our falls. It depends. An honorable person will attribute everything good that he has to God. He sees God's many bounties, he is aware that he has not reciprocated, so he humbles himself and constantly glorifies God. Then, the more he humbles himself and glorifies God, the more he will be bathed in Divine Grace. That is called "voluntary humility". Whereas the humility that is brought on by constant falls is what we call "involuntary humility". Naturally, voluntary humility has a far greater value than the involuntary. It resembles a field that has good soil and the trees on it bring forth fruits - without any fertilizers or manure - and their fruits are delicious. Involuntary humility resembles a field with poor soil; for it to be fruitful, you have to apply both fertilizer and manure, but even so, its fruits will not be as tasty."

"Elder, when I am demoted in the eyes of others on account of my behaviour and involuntarily humiliate myself, it makes me feel bad."

"With involuntary humility you settle a small portion of your debts of sin. But you need to begin to humble yourself voluntarily."

"Elder, I am in a very difficult situation. I have carnal thoughts and they cause me sorrow. I am afraid that I shall never escape this predicament."

"Have courage, my good child, and Christ will win in the end. Just chant 'From my youth has the enemy tempted me; he scorches me with pleasures, but with my trust in You, Lord, I drive him away'... In essence, it is not the poor flesh that is to blame, but pride. It is true that you have many capabilities - which of course were given to you by God - but, because you have been a little negligent and are not careful, the enemy grabs the opportunity, he exploits them and thus casts you into pride. And instead of bathing your countenance with tears of joy and gratitude towards God, you bathe it with the bitter tears of pain and worry. We thus extract the following conclusion: If we do not humble ourselves voluntarily, we shall be humbled involuntarily because the Good Lord loves us. So, take courage my child, and Christ will be the victor. 'Even if you prevail, you will again be defeated, for God is with us.' This is just a storm and it will pass and will bring much good. You will get to know yourself much better, you will be humbled necessarily and, according to spiritual laws, the Grace of God will also come to you - which was previously hindered on account of pride.
We have not tried to learn about ourself. If we get to know it, our soul will rejoice and will humbly ask for God's mercy. Knowing ourselves will beget humility. Because the more a person gets to know himself, the more the eyes of his soul will open and he will see his vast weakness all the more clearly. He becomes aware of his own wretchedness and ingratitude, as well as God's infinite nobility and compassion, and he is crushed internally; he is humbled exceedingly and he eventually comes to love the Lord even more.
From the book "Passions and Virtues" - Words of the Elder Paisios Vol.5


Προφητείες Κοσμά του Αιτωλού,Γέροντος Γενναδίου,Παισίου,Ιωσήφ Βατοπεδινού,Εφραίμ Φιλοθείτη.Περί πολέμου Τουρκίας,διάλυση της και επαναφορά της Κωνσταντινούπολης στα χέρια των Ελλήνων.Αναλαμπή της Ορθοδοξίας επί Μαρμαρωμένου Βασιλιά.


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