Friday, May 31, 2013

The Siblings of Elder Paisios

His sister Christina

His brother Raphael

To his spiritual children the Elder wrote:

"To some people your love will be expressed with joy and to others it will be expressed with your pain. You will consider everyone your brother or your sister, for we are all children of Eve (of the large family of Adam, of God). Then, in your prayer you will say: ‘My God, help those first who are in greater need, whether they are alive or reposed brothers in the Lord.’ At that point, you will share your heart with the whole world and you will have nothing but immense love, which is Christ."
Epistles, p. 50.

Five Languages of Love ( Eldress Gabriela )

The First is a smile.

The Second is tears.

The Third is a gentle touch.

The Fourth is prayer.

The Fifth is love.

With these five languages you can travel the entire earth and the whole world will be yours.

Fasting ( St. Nikolai Velimirovich )

With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.

Fasting hastens my preparations for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights.

Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit.

While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life--so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.

But truly, abstaining from food will not save me. Even if I were to eat only the sand from the lake, You would not come to me, unless the fasting penetrated deeper into my soul.

I have come to know through my prayer, that bodily fasting is more a symbol of true fasting, very beneficial for someone who has only just begun to hope in You, and nevertheless very difficult for someone who merely practices it.

Therefore I have brought fasting into my soul to purge her of many impudent fiances and to prepare her for You like a virgin.

And I have brought fasting into my mind, to expel from it all daydreams about worldly matters and to demolish all the air castles, fabricated from these daydreams.

I have brought fasting into my heart, so that by means of it my heart might quell all passions and worldly selfishness.

I have brought fasting into my heart, so that heavenly peace might ineffably reign over my heart, when Your stormy Spirit encounters it.

I prescribe fasting for my tongue, to break itself of the habit of idle chatter and to speak reservedly only those words that clear the way for You to come.

And I have imposed fasting on my worries so that it may blow them all away before itself like the wind that blows away the mist, lest they stand like dense fog between me and You, and lest they turn my gaze back to the world.

And fasting has brought into my soul tranquility in the face of uncreated and created realms, and humility toward men and creatures. And it has instilled in me courage, the likes of which I never knew when I was armed with every sort of worldly weapon.

What was my hope before I began to fast except merely another story told by others, which passed from mouth to mouth?

The story told by others about salvation through prayer and fasting became my own.

False fasting accompanies false hope, just as no fasting accompanies hopelessness.

But just as a wheel follows behind a wheel, so true fasting follows true hope.

Help me to fast joyfully and to hope joyously, for You, my Most Joyful Feast, are drawing near to me with Your radiant smile.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich(From Prayers by The Lake)

Η ταπείνωση είναι που σακατεύει τον διάβολο ( Γεροντας Παϊσιος )

Πως συμβαίνει, όμως, Γέροντα, ένας μάγος να πη για τρεις κοπέλες ότι η μία θα αποκατασταθή, η άλλη θα ατυχήση και η άλλη θα μείνη ανύπανδρη, και να γίνη έτσι;

- Ο διάβολος έχει πείρα. Όπως, π.χ. ένας μηχανικός , όταν δη ένα σπίτι που κινδυνεύει να πέση, είναι σε θέση να πη πόσο θα κρατήση κ.λπ., έτσι και αυτός βλέπει κάποιον πώς βαδίζει και με την πείρα που έχει, λέει πώς θα καταλήξη.

Ο διάβολος δεν έχει εξυπνάδα είναι πολύ κουτός. Είναι όλος ένα μπέρδεμα, άκρη δεν του βρίσκεις. Κάνει και εξυπνάδες και χαζομάρες.

Τα τερτίπια του είναι χονδρά. Ο Θεός οικονόμησε έτσι, για να τον καταλαβαίνουμε. Πρέπει να είναι κανείς πολύ σκοτισμένος από υπερηφάνεια, για να μην το καταλαβαίνη.

Όταν έχουμε ταπείνωση, μπορούμε να καταλάβουμε τις παγίδες του διαβόλου, γιατί με την ταπείνωση φωτίζεται ο άνθρωπος και συγγενεύει με τον Θεό.

Η ταπείνωση είναι που σακατεύει τον διάβολο.


Ι.Μ.Μονή Βατοπαιδίου - 25 χρόνια προσφοράς (1987-2012)


Thou shalt not Lie - Abba Dorotheos

I wish to remind you, O brethren, about lying, for I see that you do not strive very hard to restrain your tongues and from this we are easily drawn into much evil. Make note my brethren that in every matter, as I constantly tell you, one may acquire a habit either for the good or for the evil; and so one needs great heedfulness so that we will not be robbed by lying, for one who lies has no union with God. Lying is foreign to God. In the scripture it is said that Lying is from the evil one, and for he is a liar, and the father of it (Jn. 8:44). See how the devil is called the father of lies, while truth is God, for He Himself said, I am the way, the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6). Therefore you see from whom we separate ourselves, and with whom we join ourselves by lying: evidently with the evil one. And so if in truth we wish to be saved, we must with our whole soul and all our striving love the truth and keep ourselves from every lie, lest it separate us from truth and from life.

There are three forms of lies: one lies in thought, another lies by word, and another lies by his very life. He lies by thought who takes for truth his own suppositions, that is, vain suspicions against his neighbor; when he sees someone conversing with a brother, he makes his own conjectures and says, "He is speaking about me." If they stop talking he again supposes that it is for his sake that they have stopped. If someone says a word, he suspects that it was said in order to insult him. All the time and in every matter he takes note of his neighbor, saying, "He did this for my sake, he said this because of me, he did this for such and such a reason. A man like this lies in thought, for he says nothing true, but everything out of suspicion alone, and from this proceed: curiosity, evil speaking, eavesdropping, enmity, condemnation. It might happen that one supposes something and this by chance turns out to be true; after this he claims the desire to correct himself, and then begins to constantly take note of everything, thinking, "If someone is speaking about me, I should know what transgression he condemns me for, so that I can correct myself." In the first place, the very beginning of this is already from the evil one, for he began with lie: not actually knowing what was said, he thought up what he did not know; and how can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Matt. 7:18)? But if he really desires to be corrected, then when his brother tells him, “Do not do this,” or, “Why did you do that?” he should not be disturbed but should bow down and thank him, and then he will correct himself. For if God sees that such is his good will, he will never let him to go astray, but will send him someone who can correct him. But to say: "I believe my guesses in order to correct myself, and with this aim I eavesdrop and am curious.” This is self-justification inspired by the devil, who desires to make snares for us.

Once when I was living in the coenobium, a diabolical temptation came upon me. I began to draw conclusions concerning a person's state of soul from his movements and the way he walked. And then the following thing happened to me. Once when I was standing, a woman passed by me carrying a pitcher of water. I myself do not know how I was drawn away and looked her in the eyes, but immediately the thought was suggested to me that she was a harlot. However, no sooner had this thought come to me than I began to grieve heavily, and so I told the elder Abba John about it. "Master, what should I do when I involuntarily notice someone's movements and walk and the thought speaks to me concerning the state of this person’s soul?" And the Elder replied to me thus: "What is this? Doesn't it sometimes happen that a person has a natural inadequacy, but just the same corrects himself through great effort and labors? Therefore you must not draw any conclusions from this about his state of soul. So never believe your conjectures, for a crooked rule makes crooked even that which is straight. Human opinions are false and harm the one who surrenders himself to them." And thus from that time on, whenever a thought tells me of the sun that it is the sun, or of darkness that it is darkness, I have not believed it, for there is nothing more onerous than believing one's own opinions. If this becomes rooted in us, it can lead us into such a deleterious state that we think to see things which do not and cannot exist. And I will tell you in this regard about a remarkable incident which occurred in my presence when I was still in the coenobium.

There was a certain brother there who was very troubled by this passion, and he so heeded his own conjectures that he was convinced of the veracity of every one of his suppositions. It seemed to him things were happening precisely as his mind imagined, and that it could not be otherwise. The evil increased with time and the devils led him into such a state of delusion that once, when he entered the garden and looked around (he was always looking around and eavesdropping), it seemed to him that he saw one of the brethren stealing and eating figs, and it was Friday, and not even the second hour yet. And so, convinced that he really saw this, he hid himself and went away in silence. Later during the Liturgy, he again began to watch what this brother who had just stolen and eaten the figs would do during the time of Communion. When he saw that he was washing his hands so as to go and receive Communion, he ran and told the Abbot, "Look, that brother is going to receive Communion of the Divine Mysteries together with the brethren, but do not allow them to give him the Holy Gifts, for I saw this morning how he stole figs from the garden and ate them." Meanwhile that brother was already approaching Holy Communion with great reverence and contrition, for he was very devout. But when the Abbot saw him, he called him over to himself before he could go up to the priest who was distributing the Holy Gifts, and leading him away to the side asked, "Tell me brother, what did you do today?" The brother was astonished and told him, "Where O Master?" The Abbot continued, "When you went in the morning into the garden, what did you do there?" The brother, astonished, again replied to him; "Master, I did not even look at the garden today, and I was not even here this morning in the coenobium, but I have just now returned from a journey, for immediately after the All-Night Vigil the steward sent me on such and such an obedience." Now the place to which this obedience he described took him was very far away, and the brother managed only with difficulty to arrive in time for the Liturgy. The Abbot called the steward and asked him, "Where did you send this brother?" The steward repeated the same thing that the brother had said, that is, that he had sent him to such and such a village. The Abbot asked, "Why did you not call me to receive a blessing from me?" The steward, bowing down replied: "Forgive me Master, you were resting after the Vigil and therefore I did not make him go and receive a blessing from you." When the Abbot was thus satisfied he allowed this brother to receive Holy Communion, and calling the other one, who had trusted his own suspicions, he placed a penance on him and forbade him to receive Holy Communion. Moreover he also called all the brothers at the end of the Liturgy and with tears related to them what had happened, accusing the brother before all, desiring to thus achieve a three-fold purpose: firstly to shame the devil and rebuke the sower of such suspicion; and secondly, so that by putting the sin of that brother to shame, he might thereby be forgiven and receive help from God in the future; and thirdly, in order to convince the brethren never to trust their own opinions. Having instructed both us and the brother concerning this he said that there is nothing more harmful than suspicion, using this incident as an illustration. And the Holy Fathers have spoken much in the same vein, warning us against the harm of believing our suspicions. Therefore let us strive, O brethren, never to trust our own selves. For in truth nothing so removes a man from God and from heedfulness to his own sins, and so arouses constant curiosity over what is not expedient for him than this passion. Nothing good can come from it, only a multitude of disturbances; it never allows a man the opportunity to acquire the fear of God. If by reason of our infirmity evil thoughts are sown in us, we should immediately turn them into good thoughts and they will not harm us; for if we believe our conjectures, there will be no end to them and they will never allow the soul to be peaceful. This is lying by thought.

One lies in word who, for example, from slothfulness is too lazy to get up for the Vigil, but does not say, "Forgive me but I was too lazy to get up." He says instead, "I had a fever, I was completely exhausted from work, I had no strength to get up, I was unwell"; and he utters ten lying words to as not to make a single prostration and be humbled. And if he does not reproach himself in other like circumstances, he will ceaselessly change his words and argue, so as not to undergo reproach. Or if he happens to have an argument with his brother, he will not cease to justify himself and repeat, "But you said… but you did… but I did not say… but so and so said…" and this and that, so as not to be humbled. Again, if he wants something but does not wish to say, "I want this," and instead constantly deviates in his words saying, "I have such and such a disease and I need this; this has been prescribed for me," lying until he satisfies his desire. Just as every sin proceeds either from love of pleasure, love of money, or love of glory, so are lies generated from these three reasons. A man lies either so as not to reproach himself and be humbled, or so as to fulfill his desire, or for the sake of gain, and he does not cease to twist and sophisticate his words until his desire is fulfilled. Such a man will never be believed, and even should he speak the truth no one can give him credence, and his very truth will prove unbelievable.

Sometimes it happens that there is a need under extreme circumstances to conceal something small, and if this small thing were not hidden, the matter would produce great disturbance and grief. When one encounters such extraordinary circumstances and sees himself in need, he may therefore obfuscate his words so that, as I have said, a great disturbance and grief or offence might not ensue. But when such great need arises to depart from words of truth, even then a man should not continue without being saddened over this, but should repent and weep before God and consider the incident a time of temptation. He should not frequently decide upon such deviation—only once out of many occasions. If one takes snake-poison antidote or laxatives often they will harm him; but if he takes them once in a year out of great need, they bring him benefit. So also you should act in this manner: One who wants to modify his word out of great need should not do it frequently but only under exceptional circumstances, once over the course of many years, when he perceives, as I have said, a great necessity; and let that which is allowed infrequently be perpetrated with fear and trembling, showing to God one's good will and the necessity, and then he will be forgiven; but he will receive an injury from it nonetheless. And so we have said what it means to lie by thought, and what it means to lie by word. Now we would like to say what it means to lie by one's very life.

One lies by his life if, being given to fleshly passion, he pretends to be continent; or, being covetous, he speaks of almsgiving and praises mercy; or being arrogant he marvels at the humility of wisdom. And he is amazed at virtue not because he desires to praise it, for if he had spoken with this intention he would have first of all acknowledged his own infirmity with humility, saying: "Woe to me the wretched one, I have become a stranger to every good". Then after acknowledging his infirmity, he would begin to praise virtue and be amazed at it. And again, he does not praise virtue with the aim of guarding others from temptation, for if that were his intention he should have reasoned thus: "In truth I am wretched and passionate, but why should I tempt others? Why should I cause harm to someone else's soul and lay another heavy burden on myself?" Then even though he has sinned by this, he has also touched on some good; for to condemn oneself is a deed of humility, and to spare one's neighbor is a deed of mercy.

But as I have said, a liar is amazed at virtue not for any of the above-mentioned reasons, but either so as to steal the name of virtue in order to hide his own shame, and speak of it as if he himself perfectly possessed it, or often in order to harm someone and deceive him. For not a single ill will, not a single heresy, nor the devil himself can deceive anyone under any other pretext than that of virtue. The apostle says that the devil himself transforms himself into an angel of light, and therefore it is never surprising that his servants should be transformed into the servants of righteousness (cf. II Cor. 11:14-15). So also a lying man, either because he fears shame and does not want to be humbled, or, as we have said, because he desires to deceive someone and harm him, speaks about virtues and praises them, and marvels at them as if he himself behaves accordingly and knows them by experience. Such a man lies by his very life. He is not a simple man but a double-minded one, for he is one way within and another way without, and his life is duplicitous and malevolent.

And so we have spoken about lying, that it is from the evil one; and we have spoken about truth, that truth is God. And so brethren, let us flee lying so as to be delivered from the lot of the evil one, and let us strive to make truth our own, so as to have union with God, Who said, I am the truth (Jn. 14:6). May the Lord God enable us to have His truth; for to Him belongs glory, dominion, honor, and worship unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Abba Dorotheos

Underwater Chapel to be built in Bulgaria

Near the Bulgarian resort of Primorsko an Orthodox underwater Chapel will appear in the coming days, reports

A local clergyman has already blessed the foundation of the construction, stone plinths, the cross, the candle stand, an Icon of St. Nicolas with a bronze frame, and a plate with engraving: "Za Raven Broi" (“May you make the same number of dives as surfaces" ).

Construction will begin on June 1, just south of Cape Borun at a depth of 12 meters. Parts of the chapel will be delivered by boat and immersed by parachute.

The local diving center has initiated the project. It hopes to help build the church for several days. Divers will be able to light special candles in the Church, which can burn in the water.

Μάθετε τα παιδιά να ζητούν τη βοήθεια του Θεού ( Γεροντας Πορφύριος )

Το φάρμακο και το μεγάλο μυστικό για την πρόοδο των παιδιών είναι η ταπείνωση. Η εμπιστοσύνη στον Θεό δίδει απόλυτη ασφάλεια. Ο Θεός είναι το παν. Δεν μπορεί κανείς να πει ότι εγώ είμαι το παν. Αυτό ενισχύει τον εγωισμό. Ο Θεός θέλει να οδηγούμε τα παιδιά στην ταπείνωση. Τίποτα δεν θα κάνομε κι εμείς και τα παιδιά χωρίς την ταπείνωση. Θέλει προσοχή, όταν ενθαρρύνετε τα παιδιά. Στο παιδί δεν πρέπει να λέτε: «Εσύ θα τα καταφέρεις, εσύ είσαι σπουδαίος, είσαι νέος, είσαι ανδρείος είσαι τέλειος!...». Δεν το ωφελείτε έτσι το παιδί. Μπορείτε, όμως, να του πείτε να κάνει προσευχή. Να του πείτε: «Παιδί μου, τα χαρίσματα που έχεις, ο Θεός σου τα έδωσε. Προσευχήσου να σου δώσει ο Θεός δυνάμεις, για να τα καλλιεργήσεις και να πετύχεις. Να σου δώσει ο Θεός την Χάρη Του». Τούτο δω είναι το τέλειο. Σ’ όλα τα θέματα να μάθουν τα παιδιά να ζητάνε τη βοήθεια του Θεού.

Στα παιδιά ο έπαινος κάνει κακό. Τι λέει ο λόγος του Θεού; «Λαός μου, οι μακαρίζοντες υμάς πλανώσιν υμάς και την τρίβον των ποδών υμών ταράσσουσιν». Όποιος μας επαινεί, μας πλανάει και μας χαλάει τους δρόμους της ζωής μας. Πόσο σοφά είναι τα λόγια του Θεού! Ο έπαινος δεν προετοιμάζει τα παιδιά για καμιά δυσκολία στη ζωή και βγαίνουν απροσάρμοστα και τα χάνουν και τελικά αποτυγχάνουν. Τώρα ο κόσμος χάλασε. Στο μικρό παιδάκι λένε όλο επαινετικά λόγια. Μην το μαλώσομε, μην του εναντιωθούμε, μην το πιέσομε το παιδί. Μαθαίνει, όμως έτσι και δεν μπορεί ν’ αντιδράσει σωστά και στην πιο μικρή δυσκολία. Μόλις κάποιος του εναντιωθεί, τσακίζεται, δεν έχει σθένος.

Οι γονείς ευθύνονται πρώτοι για την αποτυχία των παιδιών στη ζωή και οι δάσκαλοι και καθηγητές μετά. Τα επαινούν διαρκώς. Τους λένε εγωιστικά λόγια. Δεν τα φέρνουν στο Πνεύμα του Θεού, τ’ αποξενώνουν απ’ την Εκκλησία. Όταν μεγαλώσουν λίγο τα παιδιά και πάνε στο σχολείο μ’ αυτό τον εγωισμό, φεύγουν απ’ τη θρησκεία και την περιφρονούν, χάνουν το σεβασμό προς τον Θεό, προς τους γονείς, προς όλους. Γίνονται ατίθασα και σκληρά και άπονα, χωρίς να σέβονται ούτε τη θρησκεία ούτε τον Θεό. Βγάλαμε στη ζωή εγωιστές και όχι Χριστιανούς.

Γεροντας Πορφύριος

Πολλή προσευχή και λίγα λόγια στα παιδιά ( Γεροντας Πορφύριος )

Όλα απ’ την προσευχή, τη σιωπή και την αγάπη γίνονται. Καταλάβατε τα αποτελέσματα της προσευχής; Αγάπη εν προσευχή, εν Χριστώ αγάπη. Αυτή ωφελεί πραγματικά. Όσο θ’ αγαπάτε τα παιδιά με την ανθρώπινη αγάπη – που είναι συχνά παθολογική – τόσο θα μπερδεύονται, τόσο η συμπεριφορά τους θα είναι αρνητική. Όταν, όμως, η αγάπη σας θα είναι μεταξύ σας και προς τα παιδιά χριστιανική και αγία, τότε δεν θα έχετε κανένα πρόβλημα. Η αγιότητα των γονέων σώζει τα παιδιά. Για να γίνει αυτό, πρέπει να επιδράσει η θεία Χάρις στις ψυχές των γονέων. Κανείς δεν αγιάζεται μόνος του. Η ίδια η θεία Χάρις μετά θα φωτίσει, θα θερμάνει και θα ζωογονήσει τις ψυχές των παιδιών.

Πολλές φορές μου τηλεφωνούν κι από το εξωτερικό και με ρωτούν για τα παιδιά τους και γι’ άλλα θέματα. Με πήρε, λοιπόν, σήμερα απ’ το Μιλάνο μια μητέρα και με ρώτησε πως να φέρεται στα παιδιά της. Της είπα τα εξής:

«Να προσεύχεσαι και, όταν πρέπει, να μιλάεις στα παιδιά με αγάπη. Πιο πολύ να κάνεις προσευχή και λίγα λόγια να τους λέεις. Πολλή προσευχή και λίγα λόγια σε όλους. Να μη γινόμαστε ενοχλητικοί, αλλά να προσευχόμαστε μυστικά και μετά να μιλάμε κι ο Θεός θα μας βεβαιώνει μέσα μας αν η ομιλία μας είναι δεκτή στους άλλους. Αν δεν είναι πάλι, δεν θα μιλάμε. Θα προσευχόμαστε μυστικά μόνο. Διότι και με το να μιλάμε, γινόμαστε ενοχλητικοί και κάνομε τους άλλους ν’ αντιδρούν και καμιά φορά ν’ αγανακτούν. Γι’ αυτό πιο καλά είναι να τα λέει κανείς μυστικά στην καρδιά των άλλων παρά στ’ αυτί τους, μέσω της μυστικής προσευχής.

Άκου να σου πω: να προσεύχεσαι και μετά να μιλάεις. Έτσι να κάνεις στα παιδιά σου. άμα διαρκώς τους δίδεις συμβουλές, θα γίνεις βαρετή κι όταν μεγαλώσουν, θα αισθάνονται ένα είδος καταπιέσεως. Να προτιμάς, λοιπόν, την προσευχή. Να τους μιλάεις με την προσευχή. Να τα λέεις στον Θεό κι ο Θεός θα τα λέει μέσα τους. Δηλαδή, δεν πρέπει να συμβουλεύεις τα παιδιά σου έτσι, με φωνή που να την ακούνε τ’ αυτιά τους. Μπορείς να το κάνεις κι αυτό, αλλά προπάντων πρέπει να μιλάεις για τα παιδιά σου στον Θεό. Να λέεις: ‘’Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, φώτισε τα παιδάκια μου. Εγώ σ’ Εσένανε τα αναθέτω. Εσύ μου τα έδωσες, μα κι εγώ είμαι αδύναμη, δεν μπορώ να τα κατατοπίσω· γι’ αυτό, Σε παρακαλώ, φώτισέ τα’’. Κι ο Θεός θα τους μιλάει και θα λένε: ‘’Ωχ, δεν έπρεπε να στενοχωρήσω τη μαμά μ’ αυτό που έκανα!’’. Κι αυτό θα βγαίνει από μέσα τους με την Χάρη του Θεού».

Αυτό είναι το τέλειο. Να μιλάει η μητέρα στον Θεό κι ο Θεός να μιλάει στο παιδί. Αν δεν γίνει έτσι, πες, πες, πες.... όλο «απ’ τ’ αυτί», στο τέλος γίνεται ένα είδος καταπιέσεως. Κι όταν το παιδί μεγαλώσει, αρχίζει πλέον να αντιδράει, δηλαδή να εκδικείται, τρόπον τινά, τον πατέρα του, την μητέρα του, που το καταπίεσαν. Ενώ ένα είναι το τέλειο· να μιλάει η εν Χριστώ αγάπη και η αγιοσύνη του πατέρα και της μητέρας. Η ακτινοβολία της αγιοσύνης και όχι της ανθρώπινης προσπάθειας κάνει τα παιδιά καλά.

Όταν τα παιδιά είναι τραυματισμένα και πληγωμένα από κάποιο σοβαρό ζήτημα, να μην επηρεάζεσθε που αντιδρούν και μιλούν άσχημα. Στην πραγματικότητα δεν το θέλουν, αλλά δεν μπορούν να κάνουν αλλιώς στις δύσκολες στιγμές. Μετά μετανιώνουν. Αν, όμως, εσείς εκνευρισθείτε και θυμώσετε, γίνεσθε ένα με τον πονηρό και σας παίζει όλους.

Γεροντας Πορφύριος

Εκείνο που σώζει και φτιάχνει καλά παιδιά είναι η ζωή των γονέων μέσα στο σπίτι ( Γεροντας Πορφύριος )

Εκείνο που σώζει και φτιάχνει καλά παιδιά είναι η ζωή των γονέων μέσα στο σπίτι. Οι γονείς πρέπει να δοθούνε στην αγάπη του Θεού. Πρέπει να γίνουμε άγιοι κοντά στα παιδιά με την πραότητά τους, την υπομονή τους, την αγάπη τους. Να βάζουμε κάθε μέρα νέα σειρά, νέα διάθεση, ενθουσιασμό κι αγάπη στα παιδιά. Και η χαρά που θα τους έλθει, η αγιοσύνη που θα τους έχει επισκεφθεί, θα εξακοντίσει στα παιδιά την Χάρη. Για την κακή συμπεριφορά των παιδιών φταίνε γενικά οι γονείς. Δεν τα σώζουν ούτε οι συμβουλές, ούτε η πειθαρχία, ούτε η αυστηρότητα. Αν δεν αγιάζονται οι γονείς, αν δεν αγωνίζονται, κάνουν μεγάλα λάθη και μεταδίδουν το κακό που έχουν μέσα τους. Αν οι γονείς δεν ζουν ζωή αγία, αν δεν μιλούν με αγάπη, ο διάβολος ταλαιπωρεί τους γονείς με τις αντιδράσεις των παιδιών. Η αγάπη, η ομοψυχία, η καλή συνεννόηση των γονέων είναι ό,τι πρέπει για τα παιδιά. Μεγάλη ασφάλεια και σιγουριά.

Τα φερσίματα των παιδιών έχουν άμεση σχέση με την κατάσταση των γονέων. Όταν τα παιδιά πληγώνονται απ’ την κακή μεταξύ των γονέων τους συμπεριφορά, χάνουν δυνάμεις και διάθεση, να προχωρήσουν στην πρόοδο. Κακοχτίζονται και το οικοδόμημα της ψυχής τους κινδυνεύει από στιγμή σε στιγμή να γκρεμισθεί. Να σας πω και δύο παραδείγματα.

Είχαν έλθει δυο κοπελίτσες σ’ εμένανε κι η μια είχε κάτι πολύ άσχημα βιώματα και με ρωτούσαν που οφείλονται. Και τους είπα:

- Είναι απ’ το σπίτι, απ’ τους γονείς σας.

Κι όπως την «έβλεπα» την μια, λέω:

- Εσύ απ’ την μητέρα σου τα έχεις κληρονομήσει αυτά.

- Κι όμως, λέει, οι γονείς μας είναι τόσο τέλειοι άνθρωποι. Είναι χριστιανοί, εξομολογούνται, μεταλαμβάνουν, που μπορεί να πει κανείς, ζήσαμε μέσα στη θρησκεία. Εκτός... αν φταίει η θρησκεία, απαντάει εκείνη.

Τους λέω:

- Τίποτα δεν πιστεύω απ’ αυτά που μου λέτε. Εγώ ένα μόνο βλέπω, οι γονείς σας δεν τήνε ζουν τη χαρά του Χριστού.

Πάνω σ’ αυτό η άλλη είπε:

- Άκουσε, Μαρία, καλά λέει ο παππούλης, έχει δίκιο. Οι γονείς μας πάνε στον πνευματικό, στην Εξομολόγηση, στην Θεία Μετάληψη, ναι... Αλλά είχαμε ποτέ ειρήνη στο σπίτι; Ο πατέρας συνεχώς γκρίνιαζε με την μητέρας μας. Διαρκώς πότε ο ένας δεν έτρωγε, πότε ο άλλος δεν ήθελε να πάνε κάπου μαζί. Έχει δίκιο, λοιπόν, ο παππούλης.

- Πως τον λένε τον πατέρα σου; την ρωτάω.

Μου είπε.

- Πως την λένε την μητέρα σου;

Μου είπε.

- Ε, λέω, με την μητέρα σου δεν τα έχει καθόλου καλά μέσα σου.

Ακούστε με τώρα. Τη στιγμή που μου έλεγαν τον όνομα, έβλεπα τον πατέρα, έβλεπα την ψυχή του. Τη στιγμή που μου έλεγαν το όνομα της μητέρας, έβλεπα την μητέρα κι έβλεπα πως κοίταζε η κόρη την μητέρα της.

Κάποια άλλη μέρα ήλθε μια μητέρα με την μια της κόρη και μ’ επισκέφθηκαν. Ήταν στενοχωρημένη. Έκλαιγε με λυγμούς. Ένιωθε πολύ δυστυχισμένη.

- Τι έχεις; την ρωτάω.

- Είμαι απελπισμένη με την μεγάλη μου κόρη, η οποία έδιωξε τον άνδρα της απ’ το σπίτι και μας παραπλανούσε λέγοντας πολλά ψέματα.

- Τι ψέματα; της λέω.

- έδιωξε προ πολλού τον άνδρα της απ’ το σπίτι και δεν μας είπε τίποτα. Την ερωτούσαμε από τηλεφώνου, «τι κάνει ο Στέλιος;». «Καλά, μας απαντούσε, αυτή τη στιγμή πήγε να πάρει εφημερίδα». Κάθε φορά έβρισκε κάποια πρόφαση, ώστε να μην υποψιασθούμε τίποτα. Αυτό κράτησε δύο χρόνια. Μας το έκρυβε, που τον είχε διώξει. Προ ημερών το μάθαμε απ’ τον ίδιο, που τυχαία τον εσυναντήσαμε.

Της λέω, λοιπόν:

- Εσύ φταίεις. Εσύ κι ο άνδρας σου. Και πιο πολύ εσύ.

- Εγώ! που αγαπούσα τόσο τα παιδιά μου, που δεν έβγαινα απ’ την κουζίνα, που δεν είχα προσωπική ζωή, που τα οδηγούσα στον Θεό και στην Εκκλησία, που τα συμβούλευα στο καλό. Πώς φταίω εγώ;

Απευθύνθηκα στην άλλη κόρη, που ήταν παρούσα:

- Εσύ τι λέεις;

- Ναι, μαμά, έχει δίκιο ο παππούλης, ποτέ μα ποτέ δεν φάγαμε γλυκό ψωμί απ’ τα μαλώματα που κάνατε μια ζωή με τον μπαμπά.

- Βλέπεις, που έχω δίκιο; Εσείς φταίτε, εσείς τα τραυματίζετε τα παιδιά. Δεν φταίνε εκείνα, υφίστανται, όμως, τις συνέπειες.

Δημιουργείται μία κατάστασις στην ψυχή των παιδιών εξαιτίας των γονέων τους, που αφήνει ίχνη μέσα τους για όλη τους τη ζωή. Η συμπεριφορά τους στη συνέχεια της ζωής τους, η σχέση με τους άλλους έχουν άμεση εξάρτηση απ’ τα βιώματα που φέρουν απ’ τα παιδικά τους χρόνια. Μεγαλώνουν, μορφώνονται, αλλά κατά βάθος δεν αλλάζουν. Αυτό φαίνεται και στις πιο μικρές εκδηλώσεις της ζωής. Επί παραδείγματι, σου συμβαίνει μια λαιμαργία, να θέλεις να τρώεις. Πήρες, έφαγες, βλέπεις κάτι άλλο, το θέλεις κι εκείνο, το θέλεις και τ’ άλλο. Αισθάνεσαι ότι πεινάεις, ότι άμα δεν φάεις, σε πιάνει μια λιγούρα, μια τρεμούλα. Φοβάσαι ότι θ’ αδυνατίσεις. Είναι κάτι ψυχολογικό, που έχει εξήγηση. Μπορεί, ας πούμε, να μην εγνώρισες πατέρα, να μην εγνώρισες μητέρα, να είσαι υστερημένος και πεινασμένος, φτωχός κι αδύνατος. Κι αυτό από πνευματικό γεγονός εκδηλώνεται αντανακλαστικώς ως αδυναμία του σώματος.

Στην οικογένεια βρίσκεται μεγάλο μέρος απ’ την ευθύνη για την πνευματική κατάσταση του ανθρώπου. Για ν’ απαλλαγούν τα παιδιά από διάφορα εσωτερικά προβλήματα, δεν είναι αρκετές οι συμβουλές, οι εξαναγκασμοί, η λογική κι οι απειλές. Μάλλον γίνονται χειρότερα. Η διόρθωση γίνεται με τον εξαγιασμό των γονέων. Γίνεται άγιοι και δεν θα έχετε κανένα πρόβλημα με τα παιδιά σας. Η αγιότητα των γονέων απαλλάσσει τα παιδιά απ’ τα προβλήματα. Τα παιδιά θέλουν κοντά τους ανθρώπους αγίους, με πολλή αγάπη, που δεν θα τα φοβερίζουν, ούτε θα περιορίζονται στη διδασκαλία, αλλά θα δίδουν άγιο παράδειγμα και προσευχή. Να προσεύχεσθε οι γονείς σιωπηλά και με τα χέρια ψηλά προς τον Χριστό και ν’ αγκαλιάζετε τα παιδιά σας μυστικά. Κι όταν κάνουν αταξίες, να παίρνετε παιδαγωγικά μέτρα, αλλά να μην τα πιέζετε. Κυρίως να προσεύχεσθε.

Πολλές φορές οι γονείς, και κυρίως η μητέρα, πληγώνουν το παιδί γι’ αταξία που έκανε και το μαλώνουν υπερβολικά. Τότε αυτό πληγώνεται. Ακόμη κι αν δεν το μαλώσεις εξωτερικά και μέσα σου το μαλώσεις κι αγανακτήσεις ή το κοιτάξεις άγρια, το παιδί το καταλαβαίνει. Νομίζει ότι η μητέρα δεν το αγαπάει. Ρωτάει την μάνα:

- Μ’ αγαπάεις, μαμά;

- Ναι, παιδί μου.

Αλλ’ αυτό δεν πείθεται. Έχει πληγωθεί. Η μητέρα το αγαπάει, θα το χαϊδέψει μετά, αλλ’ αυτό θα κάνει το κεφάλι πίσω. Δεν δέχεται το χάδι, το νομίζει υποκρισία, γιατί έχει πληγωθεί.

Γεροντας Πορφύριος

Τι σημαίνει μοναχός; - ( Μοναχός Μωυσής Αγιορείτης )

Λέγεται από τους ειδικούς ερευνητές πώς η λέξη μοναχός περιέχει την παλαιοδιαθηκική έννοια για αμέριστη, ενιαία καρδιά, προσηλωμένη μόνιμα, μόνο στον μόνο Θεό.

Ο πιστός άνθρωπος μπορεί ν' απαντήσει στη βαθειά επίγνωση της μοναδικότητας του ενός αληθινού Θεού μόνο με την ενεργοποίσηση όλων του των δυνάμεων, δυνατοτήτων και εφέσεων του προς ολοκληρωτική αγάπησή του.

Ο συνεχής και μόνιμος προσανατολισμός της ανθρώπινης υπάρξεως στον Θεό χαρακτηρίζεται ως απλότητα. Η ασκητικότητα και η εγκράτεια δίνει εσωτερική ενότητα και χαρακτηρίζει τους αληθινούς φίλους του Θεού, τους απλούς και όχι απλοϊκούς.
Μοναχός κατά άλλη έννοια σημαίνει ο απόλυτα συγκεντρωμένος στον Θεό, πού προέρχεται από τη σημιτική ρίζα ενοποιώ, είμαι ένας, μοναδικός, μονήρης, δοσμένος όλος στον Θεό.

Στ' αραμαϊκά, συριακά και κοπτικά μοναχός σημαίνει επίσης ο εκλεκτός, ο ένας, ο ασκητής-αγωνιστής.

Ο άγιος Διονύσιος ο Αρεοπαγίτης μοναχούς ονομάζει όσους έχουν αμέριστη και ενιαία ζωή, πού τους ενώνει στις ιερές συνάξεις, σε μία θεϊκή μονάδα και φιλόθεη τελείωση. Ο μοναχός κατευθύνει σταθερά τη ζωή του στον Θεό. Αποστολή του μονάχου είναι να ομοιωθεί με τον Θεό, να ενωθεί, να θεωθεί.
Ο αββάς Αλωνάς λέγει: Αν ο άνθρωπος δεν πει στην καρδιά του ότι αυτός μόνο και ο Θεός είναι σε αυτόν τον κόσμο, δεν πρόκειται να βρει ανάπαυση. Πρόκειται για μία αγία μοναξιά και όχι για νοσηρή απομόνωση. Δεν έχει τα στοιχεία της αφιλαδελφίας και αφιλανθρωπίας, αλλά προέχει η αυτογνωσία και η φιλοθεΐα. Ο μοναχός προσεύχεται για τους αδελφούς του και δεν μπορεί να μη τους αγαπά όλους.

Έτσι παρότι ο αληθινός μοναχός είναι μόνος δεν πάσχει από μοναξιά, ενώ ο σύγχρονος άνθρωπος των πολύβουων και πολυάνθρωπων μεγαλουπόλεων, πού συνωθείται καθημερινά από πλήθη κόσμου, πάσχει τρομερά από σκληρή και αφόρητη μοναξιά.
Μία άλλη σημασία της λέξεως μοναχός κατά την ελληνική αρχαιότητα είναι ο αυθύπαρκτος, ο ελεύθερος, ο απόλυτα μεμονωμένος, ο μονήρης. Αργότερα είχε και την έννοια άγαμος, αλλά και του έχοντος μόνο ένα ιμάτιο, μοναχίτων.

Προσωπικά μου αρέσει η ερμηνεία ότι μοναχός σημαίνει αυτός πού έχει δώσει όλη την καρδιά του στον Θεό, έχει εσωτερική ενότητα και πλήρη αφοσίωση στον Θεό και δεν είναι διχασμένος και δίψυχος.

Δίνονται και άλλες ενδιαφέρουσες ερμηνείες, προερχόμενες από τα συριακά. Μοναχός λέγεται αυτός πού εκούσια επιλέγει την αγαμία, αυτός πού έχει μονότροπη ζωή, αυτός πού έχει μία ιδιαίτερη σχέση με τον Μονογενή Υιό και Λόγο του Θεού.
Σ' εβραϊκά κείμενα μοναχός σημαίνει και μοναδικός, αυτός πού εξελέγη από τον Θεό, αυτός πού είναι απόλυτα αφοσιωμένος στην εκπλήρωση του θείου θελήματος, με το όποιο μερικές φορές δεν συμφωνεί η ανθρώπινη λογική.

Ο Θεός είναι μόνος και ο άνθρωπος του Θεού μόνος, ο ένας υπάρχει για τον άλλο, ο ένας αναφέρεται στον άλλο. Πρόκειται για μία υπέροχη, μεγαλειώδη και καταπληκτική κατάσταση και εικόνα.
Τελικά μοναχός σημαίνει μόνος; Μόνος, αλλά όχι όμως αυτόνομος, ως δήθεν δεδικαιωμένος και αποστρεφόμενος τους αδελφούς του. Η μοναστική εξωτερική μόνωση θα πρέπει να σχετίζεται απαραίτητα με την ενοειδή εσωτερική ζωή.

Κατά τον όσιο Μακάριο τον Αιγύπτιο μοναχός σημαίνει ό μόνος, πού δεν έχει γυναίκα, πού άφησε τον κόσμο εξωτερικά κι εσωτερικά, δηλαδή τα κοσμικά πράγματα και το κοσμικό φρόνημα. Μοναχός επίσης λέγεται γιατί συνεχώς επικαλείται τον Μόνο Θεό, αγωνιζόμενος να έχει μονοειδή λογισμό, στραμένο μόνιμα στον Θεό, μη καταδεχόμενος λογισμούς κακίας...
Τα παραπάνω έγραψα στη ταπεινή Καλύβη μας ένα βραδυνό πού έβρεχε, παραμονές Χριστουγέννων, υστέρα από τη μελέτη του βιβλίου του Ο. F. Boumarhnou «Μοναχός εστί...».

Δεν ξέρω αν σας έδωσα να καταλάβετε τί σημαίνει μοναχός. Αυτό πού γνωρίζω όμως είναι και αταπεινόλογα καταθέτω, πώς ενώ φορώ το ράσο του μονάχου 35 έτη, μοναχός αληθινός ακόμη δεν έγινα. Παρακαλώ εύχεσθε να μονάσω πραγματικά.

μοναχός Μωυσής Αγιορείτης

Those Who Find Fault With The Body ( St. John Chrysostom )

In as much, then, as you have now shaken off despondency, we are desirous to recall you to the recollection of former matters; so that our discourse may be rendered the clearer to you. For what we said of the creation, that God not only made it beautiful, and wonderful, and vast, but also weak and corruptible; and moreover that He has established various proofs of this; ordering both these circumstances for our advantage; leading us on by its beauty to admiration of Him who framed it: and by its weakness leading us away from the worship of the creature; this we may see, take place also in the case of the body. For with respect to this too there are many among the enemies to the truth, as well as among those who belong to our own ranks, who make it a subject of enquiry, why it was created corruptible and frail? Many also of the Greeks and heretics affirm, that it was not even created by God. For they declare it to be unworthy of God's creative art, and enlarge upon its impurities, its sweat, its tears, its labours, and sufferings, and all the other incidents of the body. But, for my part, when such things are talked of, I would first make this reply. Tell me not of man, fallen, degraded and condemned. But if you would learn what manner of body God formed us with at the first, let us go to Paradise, and survey the Man that was created at the beginning. For that body was not thus corruptible and mortal; but like as some statue of gold just brought from the furnace, that shines splendidly, so that frame was free from all corruption. Labour did not trouble it, nor sweat deface it. Cares did not conspire against it; nor sorrows besiege it; nor was there any other affection of that kind to distress it. But when man did not bear his felicity with moderation, but threw contempt upon his Benefactor, and thought a deceiving demon more worthy of credit than God who cared for him, and who had raised him to honour, and when he expected to become himself a god, and conceived thoughts above his proper dignity, then—then indeed it was that God, to humble him by decisive acts, made him mortal, as well as corruptible; and fettered him with such varied necessities; not from hatred or aversion, but in care for him, and to repress at the very outset that evil and destructive pride; and instead of permitting it to proceed any further, He admonished Him by actual experience, that he was mortal and corruptible; thus to convince him that he must never again think or dream of such things as he had done. For the devil's suggestion, was, "You shall be as gods" (Genesis 3:5). Desiring then utterly to eradicate this idea, God made the body subject to much suffering and disease; to instruct him by its very nature that he must never again entertain such a thought. And that this is true, is really most evident from what befell him; for after such an expectation, he was condemned to this punishment. Consider also with me the wisdom of God in this matter. He did not allow him to be the first to die, but permitted his Son to suffer this death; in order that seeing before his eyes the body corrupting and decaying, he might receive a striking lesson of wisdom from that spectacle; and learn what had come to pass, and be duly chastened before he departed hence.

But why do you marvel if this has happened in respect to the body, when even with respect to the soul it is plain, that a similar thing has taken place. For God made it not mortal, but permitted it to be immortal; He constituted it however subject to forgetfulness, to ignorance, to sadness, and to care; and this, lest regarding its own nobility of birth, it might take up a conceit too high for its proper dignity. For if, even while the case stands thus, some have dared to aver, that it is of the Divine essence; to what a pitch of frenzy would they not have reached, if it had been devoid of these imperfections? What, however, I affirmed respecting the creation, I affirm also respecting the body, that both these things alike excite my admiration of God; that He has made it corruptible; and that in its very corruptibility, He has manifested His own power and wisdom. For that He could have made it of some better material, He has evidenced from the celestial and the solar substance. For He that made those such as they are, could have made this also like them, had He thought proper to do so. But the cause of its imperfection is what I before adverted to. This circumstance by no means lowers the admiration due to the Creator's workmanship, but rather increases it; for the meanness of the substance, manifests the resource and adaptiveness of His art; since He has introduced such a harmony of parts in clay and ashes, and senses so various and manifold and capable of such spiritual wisdom.

In proportion, therefore, as you find fault with the meanness of the substance, be so much the more astonished at the greatness of the art displayed. For this reason also, I do not so much admire the statuary who forms a beautiful figure out of gold, as him who, by the resources of art, is able, even in crumbling clay, to exhibit a marvellous and inimitable mould of beauty. In the former case, the material gives some aid to the artist, but in the latter, there is a naked display of his art. Would you learn then, how great the wisdom of the Creator is, consider what it is that is made out of clay? What else is there but brick and tile? Nevertheless, God, the Supreme Artist, from the same material of which only the brick and tile is formed, has been able to make an eye so beautiful, as to astonish all who behold it, and to implant in it such power, that it can at once survey the high aerial expanse, and by the aid of a small pupil embrace the mountains, forests, hills, the ocean, yea, the heaven, by so small a thing! Tell me not then of tears and rheums, for these things are the fruit of your sin; but consider its beauty, and visual power; and how it is that while it ranges over such an expanse of air, it experiences no weariness or distress! The feet indeed become tired and weakened even after going but a small distance; but the eye, in traversing a space so lofty and so wide, is not sensible of any infirmity. For since this is the most necessary to us of all our members, He has not suffered it to be oppressed with fatigue; in order that the service it renders us might be free and unfettered.

But rather, I should say, what language is fully adequate to set forth the whole excellency of this member? And why do I speak of the pupil and the visual faculty? For if you were to investigate that which seems the meanest of all the members, I mean the eyelashes, you would behold even in these the manifold wisdom of God the Creator! For as it is with respect to the ears of grain; the beards, standing forth as a sort of spears, repel the birds, and do not suffer them to settle upon the fruits, and to break the stalk, which is too tender to bear them; so also is it with regard to the eyes. The hairs of the eyelids are ranged in front, and answer the purpose of beards and spears; keeping dust and light substances at a distance from the eyes, and any thing that might incommode the sight; and not permitting the eyelids to be annoyed. Another instance of wisdom, no less remarkable, is to be observed in eyebrows. Who can help being struck by their position? For they do not project to an immoderate degree, so as to obscure the sight; nor do they retire farther back than is fitting; but in the same manner as the eaves of a house, they stand out above, receiving the perspiration as it descends from the forehead, and not permitting it to annoy the eyes. For this purpose too there is a growth of hair upon them, which serves by its roughness to stay what descends from above, and affords the exact protection that is needed, and contributes also much appearance of beauty to the eyes. Nor is this the only matter of wonder! There is another thing also which is equally so. How is it, I ask, that the hairs of the head increase, and are cut off; but those of the eyebrows, not so? For not even this has happened undesignedly, or by chance, but in order that they might not darken the sight too much by becoming very long; an inconvenience from which those suffer who have arrived at extreme old age.

And who could possibly trace out all the wisdom which is manifested by means of the brain! For, in the first place, He made it soft, since it serves as a fountain to all the senses. Next, in order that it might not suffer injury owing to its peculiar nature, He fortified it on every side with bones. Further; that it might not suffer from friction, by the hardness of the bones, He interposed a middle membrane: and not only a single one, but also a second; the former being spread out on the under side of the skull, but the latter enveloping the upper substance of the brain, and the first being the harder of the two. And this was done, both for the cause that has been mentioned, and in order that the brain might not be the first to receive the blows inflicted upon the head; but that these membranes first encountering them, might free it from all injury, and preserve it unwounded. Moreover, that the bone which covers the brain is not a single and continuous one, but has many sutures on every side, is a circumstance which contributes much to its security. For a ventilation of the vapours that surround it may easily take place outward through these sutures, so as to prevent it from being suffocated; and if a blow should be inflicted upon it, on any particular point, the damage does not extend to the whole. For if the bone had been one and continuous, the stroke even when it fell upon one part, only, would have injured the whole; but now, by its being divided into many parts, this can never happen. For if one part should chance to be wounded, only the bone that is situated near that part receives injury, but all the rest remain unhurt; the continuity of the stroke being intercepted by the division of the bones, and being unable to extend itself to the adjacent parts. By reason of this God has constructed a covering for the brain of many bones; and just as when one builds a house, he lays on a roof, and tiles upon the upper part, so God has placed these bones above upon the head, and has provided that the hairs should shoot forth, and serve as a kind of cap for it.

The very same thing also He has done with regard to the heart. For inasmuch as the heart has preeminence over all the members in our body, and that the supreme power over our whole life is entrusted to it, and death happens when it receives but a slight blow; He has fenced it about on every side with stiff and hard bones, surrounding it by the protection of the breast-bone before, and the blade-bones behind. And what He did with respect to the membranes of the brain, He has done in this instance also. For in order that it might not be rubbed and pained in striking against the hard bones which encompass it, in the throbbing and quick pulsation to which it is subject in anger and similar affections, He both interposed many membranes there, and placed the lungs by the side of it to act the part of a soft bed to these pulsations, so that the heart may break its force on these without sustaining injury or distress.

But why do I speak of the heart, and of the brain, when if any one will investigate even the very nails, he will see the manifold wisdom of God displayed in these; as well by their form, as by their substance and position. I might also have mentioned why our fingers are not all equal, and many other particulars besides; but to those who are inclined to attend, the wisdom of God Who created us, will be sufficiently clear from what has been said. Wherefore, leaving this department to be investigated with diligence by those who are desirous of the task, I shall turn myself to another objection.

St. John Chrysostom

From Homily 11 of On the Statues.

The Holy Scriptural Orthodox Tradition of “Sarandismos”

The Apostolic Orthodox Tradition of “Sarandismos” (The Service of 40th Day Blessing of birth givers) is a special 40 Day period of a new mother’s self-enclosure in her home after child-birth. This is an Ancient Liturgical Act of our Holy Orthodox Church and traces back to Mosaic Law, practiced in imitation and special honour of the Holy Mother of God, the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary. Even she herself, after giving birth to Christ, remained enclosed for 40 Days and only after that period was completed, she brought the Divine Infant to the Holy Temple and placed Him at the Hands of the Holy Priest St Symeon. This event was rightfully elevated to a Great Theomitoric Feast of the “Ypapandi” = The Annunciation of Christ, which in all accuracy consists of the True Orthodox ‘Mother’s Day’. It portrays the perfect example of a Sacred Image of the Most Holy Mother which brings her Child to the Temple and dedicates it to God in all gratefulness that children are not really ours but God’s. Thus, the Tradition of Sarandismos is an exceptional tribute to Motherhood.The ancient medical term for Sarandismos is “loheia” and a woman during medical confinement of her bed is called “lehona”. In the science of medicine ‘Loheia’ is the 40 day period during which the female organism attempts to reinstate itself to the condition that it was prior to pregnancy.

The very first thing that we must point out is that these Orthodox Traditions are not "man-made" or "human teachings" as heretics accuse us. Holy Scripture commands us to "stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word or letter." (2Thess. 2, 15) These are sacred traditions initially practiced by very sacred people under divine inspiration. "Holy men of God spoke just as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1, 21) It is God the Holy Spirit that guides the Church to all Truth (John 16, 13) These sanctified persons found great favour by God, received holy information and confirmed that it is in fact pleasing to God.

It is therefore a very daring and anti-Christian stance to oppose these traditions, to attack believers and degrade their faith and adherence. It is far better, fairer and safer for someone to say: "Since it is recorded in the history of the First Apostolic Church, I do accept it, but I myself cannot practice this" or "I don't have the strength, the capacity, the ability or the intention to follow such thing" instead of cunningly devising evil excuses saying that it is supposedly "not Scriptural or not important for God or man-made". The truth is that Holy Scripture abundantly denotes the importance of motherhood, childbirth (and the sacred traditions surrounding it) are heavily important not only for her spiritual growth, but her very salvation: “A woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty”. (1 Tim. 2, 15) Sarandismos is a gracious part and extension of these saving virtues.

During the 40 day period of Sarandismos, the mother remains enclosed in her home with special dedication and focus on her child as well as on God Who gifted her that child. No visiting by family, relatives or friends is allowed and the mother is not blessed to exit her home at all, unless there is a serious medical issue or a life-threatening need. All other contemporary forms of communication are not forbidden, such as telephone calls, emails etc, as long as they are done within the need of human support and comfort, not chit-chatting, gossiping and trivial spreading of rumours, scandals and slander.

The mother devotes to prayer and chants joyful Orthodox Psalms with her infant in her arms and tries to follow the fasting, (on the normal fasting days Wednesdays & Fridays) only with the blessing of her spiritual father, as she must be assured that fasting does not affect breast-feeding in any way as there are many non-dairy foods which highly assist in breast-feeding (the mother is very highly recommended if possible to keep breast-feeding for as long as she can –even if it is for one year- and not rush to replace it with formula milk if there is no need). She also takes the chance to read various spiritual books (especially Christian Orthodox material) on how to raise children with the fear of God and how both parents can come closer to Christ & His Church. There is no such thing as Half Sarandismos, (20 days) but only the full 40 day period.

Sarandismos is entirely an issue of Faith and forms a special aspect of Spiritual Life. Although it is evidently God’s will, our Mother Church does not strictly or forcefully impose this. Our Holy Orthodox Church leaves this to the good will, the level of faith and strength of determination of each individual mother. Rest assured that any woman who willingly and gladly follows this, has immense special blessings to gain for herself, her infant and her husband too. Therefore our criteria of wanting to follow such practice are critically important as there should be no trivial or just customary purposes behind this very important implementation. Also, there should be no intentions of wanting "to show off our spirituality" or promote one’s self as a “good Christian” or keeper of traditions. A spirit of humbleness and a pure love for God are the only blessed, praiseworthy and exemplary motives.

The Actual Service of the “First Church Attendance”= “Protos Ecclisiasmos” in the “Efholoyion” (Book of Priest’s Prayers & Services) states that the Mother (always accompanied by her husband of course) attends Church for the first time “to be cleansed from every sin and every defilement of the servant of God” (Leviticus 15, 22-33) where she brings the infant to Church for the first time and dedicates it to the Holy Temple of God for the glory of God, as a sacrifice that is pleasing to God. It is important and proper that both parents specifically attend this service and not just the mother alone, as wrongly practiced today. There, the mother obtains the blessing to receive Holy Communion once again, but only her, not the child yet. The infant can only receive Holy Communion once it is Baptised and Baptism is strongly urged by our Holy Fathers to take place, no longer than 6 months, but as soon as possible immediately after the Baptism (we do not “Christen”, the term “Christening” is a Western Papal erroneous term. We Orthodox exclusively use the term “Baptism” which is an Early Christian Scriptural term maintained by Christ and The Apostles, from the Greek verb “vaptizo” which means “to fully immerse someone in water”)

The very first question, in all good intention, that may naturally arise, is “why and how can the woman be considered “unclean” since the menstrual flow and childbirth are a natural process by God’s will”?

Although the question is logical and the mindset valid, it is deeply sad to hear this when it sometimes unfortunately comes from some ‘academic’ theologians, uneducated priests or Ecumenist Modern Bishops or Archbishops, especially when they make unacceptable inaccuracies by public statements that “any prayers and references to a woman being ‘unclean’ should be totally removed from our Church books and services” and other disturbing statements such as “our Liturgical Texts and Sacraments should be “corrected”... How profoundly deplorable...

We must clarify and underline in advance that we are not promoting any disrespect to our highly respectful Clergy and consciously avoid falling in to the cursed sin of “ierokatigoria” = speaking against priests. The above references to Bishops are only made because these statements were made in public, at very large scale. It is imperative that we must be very discerning in what we sometimes hear and always get an opinion from an experienced Holy Elder, just as the “Yerontikon” sternly recommends us. Leaders themselves must be very cautious when making such public statements, because the scandal could be so great that it becomes extremely difficult to restore and re-gather those confused souls that are later “snatched” by heretical wolves at the first given chance. Our responsibility is immense with devastating consequences. Orthodoxy is not a system of false, fabricated traditions nor is our Faith subject to the pseudo-piety and barren ethics of any (rare) Ecclesiastical Leaders.

Now to the answer:

This “uncleanness” or “contamination” is not of an ethical or sinful nature. God and His Church are not considering the woman sinful or shameful, therefore she should feel no guilt about it at all. Saint John Chrysostom precisely exclaims: “There is nothing unclean within any natural process!” In his Hermeneutic Commentaries on Leviticus, he strongly opposes the notion of ethical uncleanness in a very apologetic way and not only underlines the preventing aspects of infections but also implies and condemns the defilement of adultery which was often committed under the pretext of men supposedly wanting to refrain from any contagiousness and cunningly resorting to sin.

Our Holy Orthodox Faith is a living revelation of Truth and Exposition of Sacred Tradition that is feasible and fair. According to the Old Testament (Gen. 3, 16, Leviticus 15, 22-33) which was not cancelled but completed and is still the Word of God and valid Part of Holy Scripture, and according to the All-Wise Holy Fathers, God allowed the menstrual flow as well as the birth-pains to take place after the fall of man, as a consequence of their disobedience towards their Creator, along with many other serious distortions of nature that tragically eventuated as a spiritual chastisement. After childbirth, the woman’s body experiences some unpleasant changes, human nature undergoes some form of corruption, defilement and distortion, especially with all the excessive blood flow, internal and external, liquids, infections, chemicals and pharmaceuticals used etc.. Her mental and psychological state also endures some radical changes and both parents, both “Syzigi” (an ancient Greek Biblical Greek term which means “co-bearers” of the same load and “Syzigia” to carry a burden together) share the load of these life-changing occurrences as well as the load of various other good and bad experiences during and after birth. Not only the Holy Fathers, but even doctors themselves globally testify that a woman is not yet clean straight after child-birth, that is why they even suggest that the couple refrains from coming together at least for a couple of weeks in order for genital sterilisation to be completed.

The Pioneering Book called “The Holy Rudder” = “To Ieron Pedalion” (a Complete Collection of all Decisions by All Ecumenical and Local Councils) is of paramount importance and vast validity for the Orthodox Church. There, Saint Nicodemus of Holy Mountain mentions these truths, and in rhetoric form asks the same question himself: “Why does God call a woman in her monthly, ‘unclean’? It seems that the blood flow itself, being a natural procedure, is not really a sin or (ethical) uncleanness”. It is an educational, biological and physical uncleanness to avoid contamination and prevent any possible infection. Saint Isidoros Pilusiotis makes special interpretation of these spiritual measures and restrictions, and clearly defines them as “educational measures of catharsis and sanctification”. Also in a very Early Christian Book of the 1st Century, “The Apostolic Orders” we find: “Not even the lawful marital relationships or the Wed-Bed nor the ‘flowing of blood’ can defile human nature and separate man from the Holy Spirit apart from evil, sin, impiety and ungodliness”. Yet, no Saint, Holy Father or Ecclesiastical Write ever opposed the order of Sarandismos, but they all firmly urged the faithful to safe keep it and thus it has been preserved till today. Other Great Saints such as St Dionysios Archbishop of Alexandria-the Confessor (Canon B’ 260AD), St John the Nisteftis, St Timotheos Archbishop of Alexandria, even the recent great Saints such as Saint Kosmas the Aitolean, St Nektarios, the Holy Elders St Porphyrios, St Paisios, along with all the Great Ascetic Women Saints of our times, all gave the same non-conflicting, harmonious sacred guidelines to women that sought their valuable advice and most valuable blessing.

I was very moved and taken by awe to personally witness a lady who once asked the former Holy Bishop of Florina, Augoustinos Kantiotis, if she was allowed to enter the Church whilst on her monthly, and he replied in his characteristic loving austerity: “My child, you are not even allowed to kiss my hand, not that I am anything special, we are unworthy servants but it’s the Priesthood that we have, you understand? Not only you cannot light a candle, kiss an icon or receive the ‘Antidoron”, but strictly speaking, you are not allowed to even come to the temple. We don’t say these things to degrade you women or throw you in despair, this ‘uncleanness’ is of a legal, educational nature, not ethical, you understand?”

The whole 40 day process of Sarandismos is an extended “askisis”= an extremely beneficial spiritual exercise of ascetic silence and rejuvenating stillness, a good form of experiencing “monastic” isolation, a very blessed chance of remoteness, a trial of patience, a test of ego and an assessment of obedience. It is not an easy thing, but not impossible. For those who truly believe, “with God's help everything is possible” (Mark 10, 27). Sarandismos is a pure test of faith. We eagerly submit and happily obey God’s will in order to oppose and “correct” the former disobedience by Eve. We accept this “penance” without evil objection or worldly suspicion, trusting in God’s wisdom and with steadfast hope in His great mercy. After the 40 day period of preparation, the mother re-enters the Church and restores that distortion, approaching the Sacramental Communion of the Church of God in all blessing and readiness.

Our very own Orthodox grandmothers and ancestors (which some modern theologians are very sarcastic of) have never had any issue with observing these matters and would never take any offense to these “prohibitions”. Although they were illiterate and had no theological knowledge, yet, throughout the ages, they would very humbly, remarkably and impressively express that “we really like to keep our sacred traditions, we just love to do the right thing by God! We have never thought or imagined or even intended to ever change the Gospel of Christ! That’s why we see no insult to be excluded from priesthood. We are already ‘priestesses’ and ‘Deaconesses’ in act, in sacrifice, within our blessed Home-Church, the ‘Kat’ Oikon Ecclesia!”

I think this is a very good powerful lesson for all of us, including males, monks, priests and Bishops. Rejoice. Hairete.

Monk Nicodemus

Our Place in the World and the Hope of the World

The entire world is God's creation and therefore it is by nature good; evil does not have an ontological existence. Natural evil is the result of discord which was created after man's fall; even death is a means of educating man in order to lead him back to communion with God. Moral evil, sin, does not have its cause in man's nature, but in man's disposition.

Through man's fall, all of nature was dragged into servitude to corruption. God, however, in the person of His Incarnate Word or Logos entered into the reality of the world and renewed it. By His death, Resurrection and Ascension, He led man, whom He had assumed, to the life of incorruption and immortality; and He exalted him to the height of the glory of God the Father.

This glory, which during the second coming of oui Lord shall become our possession, is prefigured in the life of the Church, and especially in the life of the saints. The bodies of the saints, the sacred relics, are surrounded by the sanctifying grace of God and become a source of divine blessings and miracles (IV Kings 13,21. Wisdom of Sirach 18,14). The grace, honor and glory which God grants to the relics of the saints consti­tute a foretaste and predepiction of man's transfiguration and that of all creation. This same grace surrounds the saints even during this life and can be discerned in some as warmth, in others as light, or through various miracu­lous energies, which are blessings for man. Even material objects in the life of the Church bear God's grace.

The presence of God's grace and glory in man and in material creation prefigures the liberation of all of creation from servitude to corruption and guarantees the certainty of our hope in life and incorruption. The world's sanctification was also wrought in the Jordan River during our Lord's Baptism. The hymns of our Church on the day of Epiphany and the prayers of the Great Sanctification of the Waters reveal the new reality of the world: "Today the earth and the sea share in the world's joy and the world is filled with gladness", states the prayer of St. Sophronios of Jerusalem.

Christ hallowed the waters of the Jordan, the banks of the river and all of creation: " You, Ο Lord, being baptized in the Jordan did sanctify its waters"; "having hallowed the waters of the Jordan You did crush the power of sin"; " Today creation is enlightened; today all things rejoice, the heavenly together with the earthly", states the hymnology of our Church.

Through the participation of the material creation in the divine worship of the Church and in the praise and doxology of God the hope of incorruption is expressed. In the Divine Liturgy all of creation is taken on and becomes a new creation in Christ. It is the bread and wine that becomes the Body and Blood of Christ, the candles, the icons, the Holy Cross; and all the material objects participate in some way in the Divine Liturgy. The water, the oil, the incense, the palms, the flowers, and even the new harvest of the crops of the earth are blessed, and the whole world regains that which it lost through man's fall: internal unity, the correct relation­ship with God, which is an eucharistic relationship, a relationship of offering in which all things are referred up and offered to God, Who becomes once again the centre of the world.

The unity of the entire creation which offers up "with one mouth" doxology to the Triune God is expressed at the end of the prayer for the Great Blessing of the Waters: "...that with the elements, and men, and Angels and with all things visible and invisible they may magnify Thy most holy Name, together with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen." Man thus forsakes his autonomy and his egoistic use of God's creation; he once again finds his correct place in the world and his "royal" and "priestly" minis­try (Gen. 1, 28. 2, 15).

The Christian does not reject this world, nor does he consider it to be something negative. He is not called to abandon the world, but to serve or liturgize in it. Christ wants his faithful to be in the world; to be "the salt oi the earth" and "the light of the world" (Matth. 5, 13-14). If our world is "tasteless and unsalted" and in darkness, if it follows a process of disintegration, then this means that Christians do not serve "as the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world". We must not then look for the cause of the world's misfortune in others.

This place that the Christians hold in the world implies responsibility for the preservation and the sanctification of God's creation, a task which stems from the service which God intrusted to man in Paradise (" cultivate and preserve", Gen. 2, 15). A Christian cannot be indifferent to the world's problems; he must labor to bring the world once again back to its doxological relationship with God. This means that the use of the world cannot have as its centre the satisfaction of man's ego and the "needs" which man constantly creates.

The true believer does not attribute absolute and exclusive value to the needs of this life nor to man's abilities. He does not intervene in God's creation in an autonomous way, independent of God's will, and egocentrically; he feels that he is responsible for cre­ation. He does not seek knowledge and use of God's creation "unconditionally". The faithful does not use the powers of the world in a manner not blessed by God and contrary to the balance and harmony in creation and to the unity of God's world.

The Orthodox believer knows that man after the fall ceased to offer creation up to God as a doxology, i.e. to practise his priestly duties vis-a-vis creation; it was he who led creation into servitude to corruption. Within the Church however, he acquires the experience of freedom from this servitude. With this experience he is now called to return to the world with the assurity of the transfiguration and salvation of the entire creation. Having once again acquired within the liturgical place his correct relationship with creation and his correct place within it, he is called to practise his service as priest of the world.

This transfiguration of man and creation in the Church is still not yet the "new heavens" and the "new earth". These will become a reality during Christ's Second Coming. Thus it is that the Christian hope is "not of this world". Every chiliastic-messianic concept which looks to an establishment of an earthly kingdom and the creation of Paradise on earth, is foreign to the spirit of Christ.

Christians respect the authorities of the world and submit themselves to human laws which do not go against their Christian hope (Rom. 13, 1-8. Acts 3, 30). They do not preach a "gospel" conforming to the aspirations and the aims of this world. This is the saving message of the Church to a world which has an exclusively intersecular character and can discern no other vertical dimension in its life. It is for this reason that Orthodox Monasticism with its ascetical character and heavenly orientation offers to our society a great service. It shows to contemporary man, who is exclusively orientated towards the horizontal dimension, the vertical dimension which is at the centre of monastic life.

The monks thus constitute the indicators of the reality of heaven, which man who lives in the world cannot easily grasp. Monasticism opens the way to the absolute experience of life in Christ: a way of asceticism and obedience which is followed throughout one's life without ending; a way which is at the same time danger­ous for those who fail to remain humble and steadfast in love that "seeks not its own". This life of the monastics constitutes a continuous vocation to contemporary man's disposition and an excellent prefiguration of the future life.

This anticipation of a new life creates in the Chris­tians the conviction that here on earth they are strangers and sojourners, and that in traversing this life they walk towards their true homeland (Hebrews 11, 13-16). The believer has his eyes always fixed upon heaven and considers death to be the last stop in his journey, his "passing on" or birth into the next life.

We believe that after their separation from the body the souls of the righteous are in the hands of God (Wisdom of Solomon, 3,1) and they await the resurrec­tion of the bodies, so that they may "totally" become partakers in God's love and glory. On the contrary, the souls of the unrighteous who in their lives rejected God's love and communion with Him and with the brethren, and who had as the only centre of reference their "ego", are deprived of this love, for their egoism does not allow them to accept it.

Christ's Second Coming will signal the general resurrection; our bodies will be clothed with incorruption and immortality. The righteous shall be raised unto life, the unrighteous unto condemnation. This will be the general judgment of the world; God's love will judge man in accordance with the position he assumes towards it, i.e. whether he accepts it or rejects it.

The Lord desires the salvation of all men, and their return to their true homeland: to the love and commu­nion with the Triune God. This we call Paradise. By this word we do not mean a material but a spiritual reality. Holy Scripture compares this communion to the relation­ship between the Bridegroom and the Bride, and their union is compared to marriage (Rev. 19,7).

The sons of the Kingdom shall be eternally united with Christ and shall henceforth absolutely live the condition of being "one in Christ"; then shall we be in Him participators by grace of His unity with the Father ("I in my Father and you in me" Jn 14,20). All who live in this life closed up within themselves, all those who do not rejoice in seeing the face of their brother shall be deprived of this joy. They of their own accord have chosen their eternal torment.

Christ's Second Coming is for the faithful the fulfilment of their hope, just as is the arrival of the Bridegroom for the Bride. This is why the preparation for the reception of the coming Christ constitutes the chief concern of this life.

But when shall the Lord come? Christians do not concern themselves in pinpointing a specific date. They are vigilant and take care to be ready at every moment, for the Lord shall come suddenly, when we do not expect Him (Matth. 24, 13. 33. Acts 1, 7). The Lord Himself warns us to protect ourselves from false prophets who will be workers of guile and treachery. Outwardly they shall appear in the guise of Christ or in the form of an angel (Matth. 24, 4-5. 23-27. II Cor. 11, 13-15). Their teaching shall not be identical with that oi Christ; thus the knowledge of the only real truth oi Christ is necessary in order to avoid error and deceit.

Η θεία παρηγοριά ( Γεροντας Παϊσιος )

- Γέροντα, όταν πονώ για τους άλλους, με πιάνει άγχος και δεν μπορώ να προσευχηθώ.

Το ότι έχει κανείς άγχος όταν πονά για τους άλλους και να μην μπορεί να προσευχηθεί είναι δείγμα ότι υπάρχει ανθρώπινο στοιχείο μέσα του! Εγώ, όσο πιο πολύ πονώ τον κόσμο, τόσο πιο πολύ προσεύχομαι και χαίρομαι πνευματικά, γιατί τα λέω όλα στο Χριστό και εκείνος τα τακτοποιεί.

Και βλέπω ότι όσο περνάει ο καιρός, ενώ το σωματικό κουράγιο ελαττώνεται, το ψυχικό αυξάνει, γιατί η αγάπη, η θυσία, ο πόνος για τον άλλον δίνουν πολλή ψυχική δύναμη. Και ήμουν όρθιος όλη την νύχτα μέχρι τη Θεία Λειτουργία που έβλεπα τον κόσμο (Ο Γέροντας εννοεί την αγρυπνία της 9ης προς 10η Νοεμβρίου του 1993. Παρόλο που ήταν πολύ ταλαιπωρημένος από τον καρκίνο, όρθιος, στηριγμένος σε μια καρέκλα, έδωσε την ευχή του σε τριάντα χιλιάδες περίπου ανθρώπους που πέρασαν εκείνη την ημέρα). Μετά και μέσα στην Εκκλησία και πάλι όρθιος, αλλά δεν ένιωθα κούραση, γιατί πονούσαν τον κόσμο και αυτό με δυνάμωνε. Και εσύ να προσεύχεσαι και να χαίρεσαι, γιατί ο Χριστός θα τα οικονομήσει όλα.

Στην πνευματική αντιμετώπιση δεν υπάρχει θλίψη. Με τον κόσμο τώρα πόσο πόνο πέρασα! Δεν τα περνούσα έτσι τα θέματά τους. Πονούσα, αναστέναζα, αλλά σε κάθε αναστεναγμό άφηνα το θέμα στο Θεό, και στον πόνο που ένιωθα για τον άλλον έδινα ο Θεός παρηγοριά. Δηλαδή με την πνευματική αντιμετώπιση ερχόταν θεία παρηγοριά, γιατί ο πόνος που έχει μέσα την ελπίδα στο Θεό έχει θεία παρηγοριά. Αλλιώς πως θα αντέξει κανείς! Πώς θα μπορούσα διαφορετικά να τα βγάλω πέρα με τόσα που ακούω;

Πονάω, αλλά σκέφτομαι και την θεία ανταμοιβή στους πονεμένους. Είμαστε στα χέρια του Θεού. Αφού υπάρχει θεία δικαιοσύνη, θεία ανταπόδοση, τίποτε δεν πάει χαμένο. Όσο βασανίζεται κανείς, άλλο τόσο θα ανταμειφθεί. Ο Θεός, ενώ βλέπει τόσον πόνο πάνω στη γη, ακόμη και πράγματα που εμείς δεν μπορούμε να τα συλλάβουμε, δεν τα χάνει.

«Περισσότερο υποφέρεις, λέει, περισσότερο θα σε οικονομήσω στην άλλη ζωή», και γι’ αυτό χαίρεται. Διαφορετικά πώς θα μπορούσε, ας πούμε, να αντέξει τόση αδικία, τόση κακία που υπάρχει; Έχει όμως υπ’ όψιν Του την ανταμοιβή αυτών που υποφέρουν και μπορεί, τρόπος του λέγειν, να αντέξει αυτόν τον μεγάλο πόνο. Εμείς δεν βλέπουμε τι δόξα θα λάβει ο άλλος και πονούμε, γι’ αυτό ο Θεός μας ανταμείβει με θεία παρηγοριά.

- Γέροντα, αυτή η στενοχώρια δεν καταβάλει τον άνθρωπο;

Όχι. Ο άνθρωπος, όταν αντιμετωπίζει το κάθε πρόβλημα πνευματικά, δεν καταβάλλεται. Στην αρχή πικραίνεται, όταν ακούει ότι κάποιος υποφέρει, αλλά μετά έρχεται ως ανταμοιβή η θεία παρηγοριά και δεν καταστρέφεται ο οργανισμός του. Ενώ η πίκρα από την κοσμική στενοχώρια φέρνει γαστρορραγία κ.λ.π., αυτή δεν βλάπτει τον οργανισμό, γιατί έχει το θείο βάλσαμο.

Γεροντας Παϊσιος

Λιτανεία Στο Άγιον Όρος - Γεροντας Παϊσιος

Στο Άγιον Όρος έκαναν κάπου Λιτανεία για την ανομβρία και, αντί να βρέξει, έπιασε πυρκαγιά! Δεν γίνεται λιτανεία σαν να κάνουμε περίπατο. Θέλει να πονέσουμε.

Μπορεί να παραμείνει πειρασμός ή μια δύσκολη κατάσταση, αν κάνουν καρδιακή προσευχή οι καλόγεροι; Παρ’ όλα τα δύσκολα χρόνια βλέπω στα μοναστήρια να επικρατεί ένα πνεύμα... Να είμαστε χαρούμενοι! Εδώ καίγεται ο κόσμος!

Μας ζητούν να κάνουμε μια αγρυπνία, ας υποθέσουμε, για έναν άρρωστο, και ψάλλουμε «Ανοίξαντός Σου την χείρα» και χαιρόμαστε. Εμείς περνάμε ευχάριστα την ώρα μας και ο άλλος εν τω μεταξύ πεθαίνει. «Κάνουμε, λέει, αγρυπνία για τον άρρωστο». Τι αγρυπνία; Εσείς κάνετε διασκέδαση. Αυτό είναι πνευματική διασκέδαση.

Μερικές φορές, ούτε όταν ο ιερέας λέει «Υπέρ των εν ασθενείαις κατακειμένων», προσευχόμαστε για τον άρρωστο. Θα βοηθούσαμε πιο θετικά, αν κάναμε και λίγη ευχή με το κομποσχοίνι. Δεν λέω να καταργήσουμε τις πανηγυρικές αγρυπνίες που προβλέπει το τυπικό, αλλά σε τέτοιες περιπτώσεις να διαθέτουμε και λίγη ώρα, για να κάνουμε τουλάχιστον ένα-δυο κομποσχοίνια λέγοντας «Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ, ελέησον τον δούλο σου».

Όλη η βάση είναι η ποιότητα της προσευχής. Η προσευχή πρέπει να είναι καρδιακή, να γίνεται από πόνο. Για τον Θεό δεν μετράει τόσο η ποσότητα της προσευχής όσο η ποιότητα. Η προσευχή που γίνεται στα μοναστήρια έχει ποσότητα, αλλά δεν φτάνει αυτό· πρέπει να έχει και ποιότητα. Τόσες ώρες προσευχή που γίνεται από τόσα άτομα, αν ήταν καρδιακή θα είχε αλλάξει ο κόσμος. Γι’ αυτό σκοπός είναι οι Ακολουθίες να γίνονται από την καρδιά.

Η καρδιακή προσευχή βοηθάει όχι μόνον τους άλλους αλλά και τον ίδιο τον εαυτό μας, γιατί βοηθάει να έρθει η εσωτερική καλοσύνη. Όταν ερχόμαστε στην θέση του άλλου, έρχεται φυσιολογικά η αγάπη, ο πόνος, η ταπείνωση, η ευγνωμοσύνη μας στον Θεό με την συνεχή δοξολογία, και τότε η προσευχή για τον συνάνθρωπό μας γίνεται ευπρόσδεκτη από τον Θεό και τον βοηθάει.

Γεροντας Παϊσιος

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where was Christ from 12 to 30 years of age? (Part 1)

Many people throughout the centuries and up until today—some unknowingly due to ignorance and naivety,
others deliberately due to cunning and evil intentions—claim that the Holy Gospels supposedly preserve secretive silence on the subject of Christ's life between the ages of twelve (when He appeared in the Temple) and the age of thirty (when He began to preach publicly).

This allegation, of course, is totally false and unsupported. Most people make this assertion with ill intentions, hoping through such slander to somehow support and prove that Jesus Christ is not God. Unfortunately, their impetus and hidden motive is to disprove and reject the miraculous power of Christ's divinity, and thereafter to proclaim that Jesus worked His miracles aided by the knowledge and skill He supposedly acquired in India!

If, however, such people had ever read the New Testament carefully, they would realize that Jesus Christ
lived within the borders of Israel throughout His entire life, and had no need to obtain human knowledge
from others.

Let us begin by examining the words of St. Luke the Evangelist, who describes Christ at the age of twelve: “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast...And after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers
...And His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look. Your father and I have sought You anxiously.’ And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that it is necessary for
me to be in My Father’s dwellings?’...And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and submitted Himselfto them” (Lk. 2:41-52)

They who claim that the Gospels henceforth ceasedetailing Christ’s life speculate that He must have left His homeland and travelled to eastern regions where He found medicine men and shamans who taught Him how to perform sorcery and exorcisms, and then returned to His country eighteen years later with newly acquired knowledge and skills. Every earnest reader, however,will realize from the above text that Christ was not in need of travelling to India in order to acquire literacy and magical powers. Fora twelve-year old child who
has the ability and wisdom to converse with teachers in such a way as to “astonish all the listeners on account of His understanding and answers” is not a common child, but a Divine Child and Son of God. Furthermore, when responding to His mother, “Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s dwellings?” Christ refers to the Temple as the home of His Father, intending with these words to reveal to everyone who was present that He is the true Son of God. Unfortunately, they “did not understand” what He said concerning His relationship with God the Father and the Temple, just as all who seek to defame Him throughout the centuries fail to understand.

Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι απελπισία… (Άγιος Νικόλαος Επίσκοπος Αχρίδος ο Βελιμίροβιτς)

Η σφραγίδα της απελπισίας είναι η αυτοκτονία. Αναρωτιέστε, γιατί υπάρχει τόση απελπισία και γιατί υπάρχουν τόσοι απελπισμένοι στην εποχή μας; Από το άδειασμα του μυαλού και την ερημιά της καρδιάς. Ο νους δε σκέφτεται το Θεό και η καρδιά δεν αγαπάει το Θεό. Όλος ο κόσμος δεν μπορεί να γεμίσει το ανθρώπινο μυαλό,αυτό μπορεί μόνο ο Θεός να το κάνει. Χωρίς το Θεό ο νους είναι πάντα άδειος και όλες οι γνώσεις που μπαίνουν στο μυαλό πέφτουν στην άβυσσο. Η αγάπη όλου του κόσμου δεν μπορεί να γεμίσει την καρδιά του ανθρώπου, επειδή η καρδιά νιώθει πως η κοσμική αγάπη αλλάζει και είναι σαν την παλίρροια και την άμπωτη της θάλασσας. Αδερφοί μου, και το μυαλό και η καρδιά μας ανήκουν στο Θεό και μόνο ο Θεός μπορεί να τα γεμίσει με τη δύναμή Του: Να το γεμίσει με τη δική Του χαρούμενη σοφία, με την πίστη και την αγάπη.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι αμάθεια.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι στεναχώρια.

—Χωρίς το Θεό όλα είναι απελπισία…

Patron Saints - June

Here are some common Patron Saints for the month of June (and again, this is by no means a comprehensive list).
Menaion Icon of the Saints and Feasts of the Month of June (icon taken from Holy Transfiguration Monastery: June
1 – St. Justin the Philosopher – for help in studies

1 – St. Agapit the Righteous Unmercensry of the Kiev Caves – for physicians

5 – Sts. Boniface and Aglais – for help against drinking and other passions

7 – St. Panagis Basias - the protector of students, protector against witchcraft, depressing thoughts and mental diseases and disorders
8 – St. Theodore the Great-Martyr, the Commander - the protector against eczema and gynecological problems, protector of children
9 - Five Holy [Κανονικαί?] Virgins: Sts. Thekla, Mariam, Mary, Martha and Enatha – protectors of virginity
10 – Sts. Theophanes and Pansemni the Righteous - protectors of a pure life
11 – St. Luke the Physician, Archbishop of Crimea - protector against cardiovascular and ocular diseases and illnesses, protector against cancer and all illnesses, patron of surgeons and all physicians, protector of children, protector of those unfairly imprisoned
12 – Sts. Onouphrios the Righteous and Peter of Mount Athos – for captives and court cases

14 – Righteous Elisha the Prophet – protector of olive-growers [ελαιοπαραγωγών?]
20 – St. Nahum of Ochrid – for mental disorders

21 – St. Julian the Martyr – for meeting a difficult situation

21 – St. Nikitas the Neomartyr of Nisyros - helps in times of weak faith
21 – St. Aphrodisios the Martyr - protector against venereal diseases
23 – St. Artemios of Verkola – for hernias and intestinal disorders

25 – Sts. Peter and Febronia of Muron – for marital difficulties and newlyweds

27 – St. Sampson the Innkeeper, the Unmercenary – protector of innkeepers, protectors against disease in general
28 - Sts. Cyrus and John the Anargyroi (Unmercenaries) [the transfer of their relics] - protectors against all sickness and soul-corrupting passions, and for help in meeting a difficult situation
29 – St. Peter the Apostle – protector against stones [λιθιάσεων?]
30 – The Twelve Holy Apostles - protectors of fishermen

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Παράδειγμα της υπακοής- ( Γεροντας Πορφύριος )

Ένα από τα πολλά χαρίσματα που κοσμούσαν τον χαρακτήρα του Πατρός Πορφυρίου, ήταν η υπακοή.

Κάποια μέρα αντί να μου μιλήσει ευθέως για την αξία της υπακοής που εγώ κάθε άλλο, παρά τα είχα…καλά μαζί της άρχισε να μου λεει τα εξής:

Όταν ακόμη ήμουν μοναχός και είχα σχεδόν την ηλικία σου πληροφορήθηκα ότι σε ένα κελί ζούσε ένας παράξενος γέροντας. Όποιος υποτακτικός πήγαινε να τον υπηρετήσει δεν άντεχε την γκρίνια του και την ιδιοτροπία του και μέσα σε 2-3 μέρες τον εγκατέλειπε και έφευγε. Αυτό συνέβαινε για πολύ καιρό. Στο τέλος δεν εδέχετο κανείς να πάει να τον υπηρετήσει. Τότε αποφάσισα να πάω εγώ. Έκανα την πρόθεση μου γνωστή στους άλλους μοναχούς και εκείνοι προσπάθησαν να με εμποδίσουν. Μην τολμήσεις, μου είπαν, γιατί θα αποτύχεις και θα απογοητευτείς και είσαι πολύ νέος και δεν κάνει να αρχίσεις την μοναχική σου ζωή με μια τόση κακή εμπειρία. Εδώ προσπάθησαν τόσοι και τόσοι μοναχοί με υπομονή πρωτόγνωρη και καλοσύνη πρωτοφανή και απέτυχαν και θα κατορθώσεις εσύ να συνεργαστείς με τον γεροπαράξενο; Μη προσπαθείς. Άδικα θα υποβληθείς σε μια ταλαιπωρία που δεν θα διαφέρει σε τίποτα από τις δικές μας αφού το αποτέλεσμα της θα είναι αρνητικό. Μάταια, όμως προσπάθησαν να με πείσουν. Εγώ, τους είπα, θα πάω και ας αποτύχω.

Πράγματι! Χωρίς να χάσω καιρό ξεκίνησα για το κελλί, που έμενε ο Γέροντας. Χτύπησα την πόρτα και μου είπε να περάσω. Τον καλημέρισα και συγχρόνως υποκλίνομαι. Την ευχή σας γέροντα.

- Τι θέλεις εσύ εδώ;

- Να, έμαθα, ότι είσαι μόνος σου και ανήμπορος και ήλθα να σε υπηρετήσω..

- Να πας από εκεί που ήρθες! Φύγε γρήγορα.

- Λέγοντας αυτά μου έδειξε το παράθυρο. Να φύγω δηλαδή από το παράθυρο και όχι από την πόρτα. Και εγώ όπως πάντα έκανα άκρα υπακοή! Βγήκα από το παράθυρο! Αυτό θα πει υπακοή!

Γεγονός πάντως είναι, ότι ο παππούλης επέμενε πολύ στο θέμα της υπακοής. Και την θεωρούσε καθήκον και υποχρέωση συνάμα κάθε πνευματικού παιδιού.

Ο ίδιος θέλοντας να δείξει το μέγεθος της σημασίας που είχε για εκείνον η υπακοή αναφέρει στην Επιστολή-Διαθήκη του, που άφησε σε όλους εμάς, τα εξής:

«…έφυγα από τους γονείς μου κρυφά και ήλθα στα Καυσοκαλύβια του Αγίου Όρους και υποτάχτηκα σε δυο γεροντάδες αυταδέλφους, Παντελεήμονα και Ιωαννίκιο. Μου έτυχε να είναι πολύ ευσεβείς και ενάρετοι και τους αγάπησα πάρα πολύ και γι’ αυτό, με την ευχή τους, τους έκανα ά κ ρ α υ π α κ ο ή. Αυτό με βοήθησε πάρα πολύ, αισθάνθηκα και μεγάλη αγάπη και προς τον Θεό και πέρασα και πάρα πολύ καλά».

Γεροντας Πορφύριος

The Faithful Husband That Would Not Abandon His Unfaithful Wife

I will tell you of another characteristic of a proper spouse, which is extremely difficult to find in our day. But we did encounter one such person. He was in every way a perfect character, a Christian, and completely social. He married late, around thirty years old, not because he was averse to marriage, but because he thought that was how it should be. So he said his prayers with faith, and found himself a young girl and married her. The girl was young, ten years younger than him. Soon after he married her, she began her mischief. He pretended not to notice; he regarded her as his daughter and himself as her father. However, they had important business interests overseas and they had to go there, even if only temporarily. So he took her and they went abroad. When they arrived, she became very obstinate, and would say to herself: "He did this on purpose, to estrange me from my environment. I will desert him." So she abandoned and left him. She came back to Greece, and where do you think she went? To one of those "casino" places, and began to live the life of a free woman - one who is paid.

The husband however, from the day that she left him, never stopped praying with tears and insisting - in fact exhorting God: "All Good One, I will not retreat, I will not leave You alone; You were the One who gave me my wife. 'By the Lord is a man and woman harmonized' (according to the Bible). I want my wife. If the young girl has been deceived, must she be lost? Why did You come down to earth? Didn't You come to find the lost ones, to heal the sick, to resurrect the dead? I will not retreat. I will not let You rest. I want my wife; bring her back to me." He wept for two whole years.

His prayer was eventually heard and the young woman came to her senses. "Oh my," she confessed, "God will have to create another Hell, because this one is too small for me!"

So she sat down and wrote him a letter, saying: "I dare not address your name; I have no such right. If I return, will you accept me as your servant?"

He replied: "My love, why did you mention that word and hurt my feelings? Wasn't it me who sent you on a vacation and I was longing for my love to return to my open arms?"

So, he went and waited for her at the airport, as they had arranged. When she arrived, she fell down and began to beat herself and cry. He took her in his arms.

"My love, why are you like this and hurt my feelings? I was longing to see you again. Let's go home now; we never parted - I was always with you."

And this young girl proved herself to be a faithful wife from then on.

And that is the stance that a man - a husband - should take.

Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
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