Sunday, July 28, 2013

The mother with one eye

His mother had only one eye ... embarrassed about her hours and hours he hated her.Her job was a cook in the student club. She would cook for the students and teachers to pay for her expenses ... She didn't want to speak to him so they would not find out that she was a mother of a child ... with one eye. The students left quickly when they saw her coming from the kitchen and said that they could not bear the sight, and that caused them an intolerable shiver ...The boy from very young had a problem with the image of his mother.
One day, the mother passed by his school, to say a simple hello. . He felt very upset."How could she do this?" he wondered ...he ignored this, and only threw a hateful look towards his mother while trembling. The next day one of his classmates shouted: "Eh, your mother has only one eye! .. He wanted to die. He wanted to disappear. When he returned home, he said: "If everyone is laughing at me because of you then you should die!". The mother did not answer ..."I did not care about what I said or what I felt, because I was very angry," he said later to a friend. "I wanted to leave that house and not have anything to do with her. So I studied hard in order to leave for a scholarship abroad ... and I did it.He thought, she came and got the job at the club to help me ... couldn't she go somewhere else? ... " .
Later, he got married, bought his own home, had two children and was happy with his life, his children, his wife and his job!One day after years of absence, he asked his mother to visit him.The mother had never seen up close her grandchildren. Once she appeared at the door, the children began to laugh at her, he got angry because she had gone without his request and without her calling him to say that I am coming. Then he shouted: "How dare you come suddenly to my house and scare my children? Get out! Get out! ". His mother replied very quietly: "Oh, I'm sorry sir! I guess I have the wrong address "and she then left, without the kids understanding that this was their grandmother ... Years passed, one day he found in his home mailbox, a letter for a school reunion at the primary school, which was the city where he was born ... He lied to his wife and told her that he had to go on a business trip and was on his way. . Once the reunion of classmates was over, he went to the house that he grew up, just out of curiosity ... The neighbors told him that his mother had died recently and He never uttered a tear. They gave him a letter that she had left for him:
"Dear son, I am thinking of you very often. I am very sorry that I came to your house that day and scared your children. I have learned that you will be attending the school reunion and I feel very happy. Unfortunately, I fear that I may not be able to get out of bed to come and see you. I wrote this letter to be given to you just in case I don't make it in time to see you. I am very sorry that I embarrassed you and that you were ashamed of me when you were young.. You see ... when you were very young, you had a serious accident and lost one of your eye. I could not see my child grow up with one eye and live that way, so I gave you mine. I was so proud that my son would see the world with my help, with my own eyes ... You always have all my love. "Your mother.

Holy Relics-Orthodox Saints

Importance of the Jesus Prayer - Elder Paisos

Many ask why is this Jesus prayer so important. It is not as many eastern meditation practices teach to gain a state of bliss or some psychic experience. The purpose is to keep our soul connected with God so we can live according to His will.

Elder Paisos puts it this way,
The soul must be constantly ready and alert and always in contact with the spiritual headquarters, that is, God. Only then, it will feel secure, full of hope and joy.
When we learn to pray continually, we gain an sense of security because God is always with us to guide and help us no matter what situation we encounter. We are never left to rely solely our own thoughts and reason, but always have God at our side.

The Elder says,
The more we pray, the more secure we feel, on a spiritual basis, of course.

Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 79



One of the great challenges of every human being that is born into this world is to discover the ultimate purpose for our existence. As Orthodox Christians, we are brought into the Kingdom of God through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. This is called the New Creation that has been given to us by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The first phase of a Christian’s life is in being given the gift of eternal life through Holy Baptism. The second phase of one’s journey of faith is to make the saving message of Jesus Christ an integral part of our lives. This means making a personal commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior. Once we enter the age of discernment, we are called upon to take the gift of spiritual rebirth we received in baptism and give it meaning through our faith commitment to Jesus Christ. When I say faith commitment, I mean that Jesus Christ becomes a living reality in our lives. This means that the Church and the sacraments that it offers us are more than just traditions and pietistic religious practices. There are far too many of our people today who look upon the sacraments as lifeless rituals. The third phase of our journey in Christian living is the adult stage where we are all immersed in the struggles of life with all its triumphs and tragedies. It is during this critical time, as we live out our limited time here on earth, that we struggle to become Christ-like. It is during this stage of life when all Orthodox Christians are called to prepare their souls to pass over from death to life in Jesus Christ. It is during this stage of life that Orthodox Christians are asked to live in obedience to the commandments of God, go to sacramental confession, and receive Holy Communion frequently.

My dear friends, these thoughts of mine about our Orthodox Christian walk in life have been prompted by the untimely death of a spiritual child of mine. When these tragedies occur we often hear the question, is there any purpose to our struggles in life? My response to this question is there any meaning in life without Christ and His Holy Church in the face of our mortality? These thoughts of mine about our Orthodox Christian walk in life have also been prompted by my recent discussion with three adult Orthodox Christian men born, baptized and raised in the Orthodox Christian Church. In spite of being raised in an Orthodox Christian environment, they still question the reality of Jesus Christ and life after death. These men today are grandfathers and are entering the twilight years of their lives, but it is apparent from our conversation that they have not yet made a commitment to Jesus Christ. It suddenly struck me, after having this conversation that these men suffer from a crisis of faith. Having entered the Greek Orthodox priesthood some fifty-four years ago, I have been privileged to delve deeply into the profound meaning of life as revealed to us by Jesus Christ. My priesthood has also allowed me to see up close the cycle of life unfolding before me. I have seen all the troubles we humans encounter as we move through this veil of tears called earthly life. Having had the privilege of studying the depths of Christ’s saving message, I find it indispensible for all of us to use the time that is allotted to each of us to seek a peaceful, holy, and tranquil end to our lives. If we prepare ourselves properly, our souls will joyfully enter the realm of eternity to dwell with Jesus Christ for all eternity.

There is no doubt, my beloved spiritual fellow travelers, that there is a crisis of faith in the times in which we live. There is also a crisis of faith in far too many of our people in the Orthodox Church today. In view of this fact, it seems that the burden of redirecting these people back to their spiritual roots falls to the Church and its priests. Since this is not an easy task to accomplish, I find it most enlightening and beneficial for me to turn to the wisdom of the holy men and women of the Church who have lived Christ-like lives. The Elders Porphyrios, Paisios, and the Eldress Gabrilia are contemporary examples of holy people who opened the portholes of heaven to harvest the Grace and Wisdom of God. The Elder Porphyrios tells us: “That in the Church we are all one and Christ is the head of the Church. We, the members of the Church, are the body as St. Paul tells us in Colossians 1:18. The Church and Christ are one. The body cannot exist without its head. The body of the Church is nourished, sanctified and lives with Christ. He is the Lord, omnipotent, omniscient, everywhere present and filling all things. He is the pillar and sure foundation of the Church. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the basis for everything. Without Christ the Church does not exist. Christ is the Bridegroom; each individual soul is the Bride.”

The Elder goes on to say: “Christ united the Body of the Church with heaven and with earth: with angels, men and all created things, with all of God’s creation with the animals and birds, with each tiny wild flower and each microscopic insect. The Church thus became the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Eph1:23) Everything is in Christ and with Christ. This is the mystery of the Church. For the people of God there is no such thing as distance, even if they be thousands of miles apart. However far away our fellow human beings may be, we must stand by them. Some people regularly telephone me from a town on the edge of the Indian Ocean—Durban is what it is called, if I am pronouncing it correctly. It’s in South Africa, two hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Indeed, a few days ago they came here. They were taking a sick person to England and they came here first to ask me to read a prayer. I was much moved.”

The Elder Paisios is asked the following question: “Elder, what does ‘Καλό Παράδεισο mean? Could it mean Elder, may you enter the blessedness of Paradise?” The Elder replied. “In any case, in order for anyone to go to Paradise, one must endure much bitterness here in order to acquire a passport for that journey. What terrible things are happening in hospitals! What tragedies! What pain the world has! How many mothers, poor people, are being operated on while thinking of their children and the worry the whole family is going through. How many fathers have cancer and are receiving radiation and the torture they are enduring? They can’t work but yet they continue to have expenses in order to support their families.

“There are also others who are healthy and yet they still cannot make ends meet. How much harder it is for someone who is sick or does not have the energy to work to fulfill all his obligations! These people come to me with all their problems. How much I hear from them every day! I hear about their continuous struggles and difficulties. During the day I hear of all their suffering and at night I fall down fasting before I fall asleep. I sense great bodily fatigue but inner peace.”

***Note: The greeting, Καλό Παράδεισο, (A Blessed Paradise), is a traditional greeting among many Orthodox monks and laymen. It is used on the occasion of name days and other special occasions. It replaces the common Greek phrase Χρόνια Πολλά, (Many Years), and thus more properly focuses not on more earthly years but inheriting a Blessed Paradise.


Nun Agne told us the following story. “In 2007, a fifteen year-old boy came to the Monastery seeking healing since he was at death’s door. He was from the Island of Cyprus and had suffered with cancer for most of his youthful years. His father had died and his mother tried to remain strong for her sick son and for his younger brother Basil. The child had gone through 23 operations without any success. His condition got worse and the doctors at a large hospital in Athens told his mother that he needed more surgery. They also told her they did not know whether or not he would survive the operation since he was paralyzed. His mother, on the night before traveling to Athens, saw the Holy Mother in a dream and the Holy Mother said to her: ‘Don’t worry. I am Panagia Malevi. Come to my home and Andrew will get well.’ The woman, as soon as she awoke asked her mother who Panagia Malevi was but the mother had no idea who she was. They inquired and found out that the Monastery was in the area of Greece called Kainourgia. Thus, the woman and her child took an airplane from Athens and upon arriving in Kainourgia they rented a taxi to come to our Monastery.”

“According to the nun, the inhabitants of the village, the nuns and the taxi driver helped the mother with the wheelchair and brought her son into the Church to venerate the miraculous icon of the Holy Mother. As soon as the child venerated the icon, he felt that the Holy Mother filled him with strength. The child said that he felt that something strange penetrated his body and he immediately cried out: ‘let me walk.’ His mother and all those present were stunned by this. Everyone began to cry and Andrew stood up. He first walked and then he began to run. The nun Agne said: ‘I have been at this Monastery for forty years and I confess to you that at that moment, I felt the presence of Panagia (Holy Mother) very powerfully and I trembled. Andrew left the Monastery walking normally. He left his wheelchair here because he no longer needed it.’ The doctors who examined the boy after his visit to Panagia Malevi could not believe that the child was walking again and was still alive. Oddly enough the tests furthermore showed that he still had cancer in much of his body but the child appeared to be healed. Ever since that time Andrew and his mother visit the Monastery once a year to thank Panagia (Holy Mother).”



The following is a story that happened in the Monastery built by Saint David in 1550 on the beautiful Island of Evia. I have been blessed to have visited this beautiful Monastery and reverenced the resting places of both Saint David and the Elder Iakovos Tsalikis. The Elder was born in Asia Minor on November 5, 1920 and he fell asleep in the Lord on November 21, 1991. He is a contemporary of the Elders Porphyrios and Paisios. The miracle of the multiplication of the food through the intercessions of Saint David is truly a contemporary miracle and very few Orthodox Christians in America know about Saint David of Evia and the Elder Iakovos. Both of these holy men were miracle workers while alive although more than five hundred years separates their ministries in the world. Remember that the Elder Paisios says that there are no distances that separate Christians in this universe. +Fr. Constantine J. Simones

“In August 1963, 75 people from Livanata, Greece came to visit the Monastery of the Elder Iakovos in Evia, Greece. They came to work on the Monastery cistern, the spring of Holy Water. Many came from Livanata, the homeland of St. David of Evia and had vowed to give something to the Monastery in honor of St. David. They vowed to honor him either in work or with money. These 75 men along with 15 others from the Monastery were working on the cistern. Fr. Iakovos was coordinating the work but he was the only one who could prepare the food during the stay of these good people. He realized that he did not have enough food supplies on hand to feed this many people. The food supplies they had on hand only lasted for one day and he had no money to buy more food. He looked in all the supply rooms to find more food. He was able to find only 3.25 kilograms of orzo and a half loaf of bread. The monk Efthymios also had a half loaf of bread. This certainly was not enough food to feed the one hundred people who were working on the cistern. At this point, the Elder Iakovos became worried and did not know what to do. He was on the verge of tears knowing that he could not feed all these people. But suddenly he was struck with an idea. He found a pot and put the orzo in it along with the two half loaves of bread he had. He then went into the Church and stood before the icon of St. David and literally spoke to him:

“My dearly beloved Saint, these people are working on your Monastery. They are tired and hungry and I have nothing else to give them to eat other than this orzo, a little olive oil, and these two half loaves of bread.” As the Elder was talking to St. David, he held out the food items that he had available to him. “I entreat you to bless them so that all of the workers might eat and be filled.” He put all the items into the pot and cooked them. He then proceeded to feed all the workers. They all ate and were filled and there were leftovers. Many people witnessed this miracle including the current Abbot Fr. Cyril. Many years later, speaking about the miracles of St. David, Fr. Iakovos said: “My brothers, once again there was the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.”

OCTOBER 15, 1897—MARCH 28, 1992

Gavrilia was born in Constantinople on October 15, 1897. She was the fourth and last child of Elias and Victoria Papayanni. She was a most unusual woman who spent most of her life living penniless as a neptic ascetic and missionary. Neptic in Orthodox theology means prayerful wakefulness or prayerful watchfulness. She was a missionary to the lepers, the blind and the lost. She offered her life as a humble offering, as a spiritual holocaust to both God and man. Her life was a journey of true Christ-like love that covered four continents. She ended her life being tonsured a nun at a Monastery on the Island of Leros, Greece on August 13, 1991. The following are some of the precious words that came forth from her sanctified life: “Orthodox spirituality is knowledge acquired through suffering rather than through learning. Do not wish for many things, whether they are within or outside of your each. Instead, take care of sanctifying the little that you have. Man wants his freedom. Why? So that he may be a slave to his own passions. Our purpose should be to have the Holy Spirit in our hearts, even when we have the parasite in our heads. We become the reflection of heaven by saying: ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ When God created us, He gave us life and breathed His Holy Spirit into us. This is the Spirit of love. When love deserts us, we become as dead as corpses. We are not alive any more. When thoughts of passing judgment on another person cross our mind, pray God to take them away at once, so that you may love this person as He does. Then God will help you see your own faults. If Christ were visible, could you have such thoughts? We must love people and accept them in our hearts as God presents them to us. It has been thus ordained by the Lord Himself and Orthodox Tradition. The agony of dying is the effort made by the soul to free herself and run towards God. A miracle is the normal course of events according to God’s will. What we call a miracle is only what is natural to God.”

“What would you do if the Lord were present and visible? Would you do certain things if He were here by your side? Thinking this way protects us from committing sins. Beyond the realm of love the will of God will protect you and teach you how to speak to others. Since I am always submitted to the will of God, I can never be anxious about anything. When we become the mirror in which the other person sees his own reflection and this mirror is filled with joy, he will surely see some joy also. We have need of three things in life: first faith, second faith and third faith.”

Her biographer says the following things about the final days of her life: “I remember that when on January 1, 1992, she was at the service for the blessing of the New Year’s Bread, she no longer concealed that she was leaving the world. Seeing in her thoughtful gaze a reflection of heaven, we were filled with awe and a sense of nostalgia knowing that the separation was soon to take place. Again, how could we not see her off with all our heart, with all our soul having an unexplainable joy which is not like any other? During the last month of her life on earth, Mother Gavrilia was no longer seeing anyone except Bishop Nektarios and Father Nicodemus. She kept silent. Still, a few days before her passing away, she found the strength to speak and we recorded her words for her spiritual children. She bid them farewell and gave them her last blessing. She received Holy Communion, and in full readiness entered the gates of heaven.”

“At a quarter past six that morning on March 28, 1992, a few minutes before sunrise, a different serenity filled her cell. Suddenly, she lifted her arms to heaven and with trembling hands tried to tell us something. We understood what it was the moment she gave up her last breath. Probably she had seen or felt a presence. What is most unbelievable is that, at that very moment, we heard quite clearly a youthful voice sing an unknown melody, joyfully, angelically. This lasted a few brief seconds then silence and an absence and a void pervaded her monastic cell.”
St. Makarios, the Great, of the Egyptian desert says the following words about unique spiritual people like Eldress Gavrilia: “The good servants of the Lord permanently have at their sides angels to protect them; and when they depart from the body, again a host of angels take their souls and deliver them to the Lord, to Whom belong all glory, honor and worship, now and forever. Amen.”

In conclusion, my dear people, in the face of this great cloud of witnesses that proclaim the living reality of the Jesus Christ, how can any of us deny the Lord of life in an age of disbelief?

+Fr. Constantine J. Simones, July 25, 2013, Waterford, CT, USA



Ὁ στρατιώτης τοῦ Χριστοῦ ( Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης )

Ὅπως ἔχει ὑποχρέωσι ἀναπόφευκτη κάθε χριστιανός, ὅταν χάση τὴν εἰρήνη τῆς καρδιᾶς του νὰ κάνῃ τὸ ὅ,τι μπορεῖ γιὰ νὰ τὴν ξαναποκτήσῃ, ἔτσι πάλι πρέπει νὰ γνωρίζῃ, ὅτι κανένα γεγονὸς ποὺ συμβαίνει στὸν κόσμο, ποὺ θὰ τοῦ συνέβαινε, δὲν εἶναι σωστὸ καὶ φρόνιμο νὰ τοῦ στερῇ ἢ νὰ τοῦ κλονίζῃ τὴν παρόμοια εἰρήνη. Πρέπει ναί, νὰ λυπούμαστε γιὰ τὶς ἁμαρτίες μας, ἀλλὰ μὲ ἕναν πόνο εἰρηνικό, κατὰ τὸν τρόπο, ποὺ προηγουμένως ἔδειξα σὲ πολλὰ σημεῖα· καὶ ἔτσι, χωρὶς ἐνόχλησι τῆς καρδιᾶς, νὰ συμπονᾶμε μὲ εὐλαβῆ διάθεσι ἀγάπης κάθε ἄλλο ἁμαρτωλὸ καὶ νὰ κλαῖμε ἐσωτερικὰ τὸ λιγότερο· δηλαδή, ἂς πενθοῦμε γιὰ τὰ σφάλματά του. Γιὰ τὰ ἄλλα ποὺ συμβαίνουν, τὰ βαρειὰ καὶ βασανιστικά, ποὺ μᾶς ἔρχονται, ὅπως ἀσθένειες, πληγές, θάνατοι τῶν συγγενῶν μας, ἐπιδημίες πείνας, πόλεμοι, φωτιὲς καὶ ἄλλα παρόμοια κακά, ἂν καὶ οἱ κοσμικοὶ τὰ ἀποστρέφωνται τὶς περισσότερες φορές, ὡς ἐνοχλήσεις τῆς φύσεως, παρόλα αὐτά, μποροῦμε μὲ τὴν χάρι τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὄχι μόνο νὰ τὰ ὑποφέρουμε, ἀλλὰ καὶ νὰ τὰ θέλουμε καὶ νὰ τὰ ἀγαπᾶμε, σὰν δίκαιη τιμωρία στοὺς παράνομους καὶ σὰν ἀφορμὲς τῶν ἀρετῶν στοὺς καλούς· ἐπειδὴ σὲ αὐτὸν τὸ σκοπὸ ἀποβλέπουμε, καὶ αὐτὸ ἀρέσει ἀκόμη καὶ σὲ αὐτὸν τὸν Κύριό μας καὶ Θεό, ποὺ ἂς τὰ στέλνει· τοῦ ὁποίου τὸ θέλημα ἀκολουθώντας ἐμεῖς, θὰ περάσουμε μὲ καρδιὰ ἥσυχη καὶ ἀναπαυμένη ὅλες τὶς θλίψεις καὶ τὰ βάσανα τῆς τωρινῆς ζωῆς. Καὶ νὰ εἶσαι βέβαιος, ὅτι κάθε παρενόχλησις καὶ ταραχὴ τῆς καρδιᾶς μας, δὲν ἀρέσει στὰ θεϊκὰ μάτια· γιατὶ ὅποια καὶ νἆναι αὐτή, πάντα εἶναι συντροφιασμένη ἀπὸ ἀτέλεια καὶ πάντα προέρχεται ἀπὸ κάποια κακιὰ ρίζα τῆς φιλαυτίας.

Γι᾿ αὐτὸ νὰ ἔχῃς πάντοτε ἄγρυπνη μία σκοπιὰ παρατηρήσεως, ἡ ὁποία ἀμέσως μόλις δεῖ κάτι ποὺ μπορεῖ νὰ σὲ ἐνοχλήσῃ καὶ νὰ σὲ ταράξη, ἂς σοῦ κάνῃ νόημα, γιὰ νὰ καταλαβαίνῃς γιὰ τί πρόκειται καὶ νὰ πιάνεις τὰ ὅπλα στὸ νὰ διοικῆσαι σκεπτόμενος, ὅτι ὅλα ἐκεῖνα τὰ κακὰ καὶ ἄλλα παρόμοια πολλά, ἂν καὶ φαίνονται ἐξωτερικὰ κατὰ τὴν αἴσθησι κακά, δηλαδὴ βλαβερά, ὅμως δὲν εἶναι ἀληθινὰ κακά, οὔτε μποροῦν νὰ μᾶς ἀφαιρέσουν τὰ πραγματικὰ καλὰ καὶ ὅτι ὅλα τὰ διατάζει καὶ τὰ παραχωρεῖ ὁ Θεός, γιὰ τοὺς σωστοὺς σκοποὺς ποὺ εἴπαμε πρὶν καὶ μᾶς συμφέρουν καὶ γιὰ ἄλλα, ποὺ δὲν εἶναι γνωστὰ σὲ μᾶς, ἀλλὰ πολὺ δίκαια καὶ πολὺ ἅγια χωρὶς ἀμφιβολία. Καί, ἂν σὲ κάθε θλιβερὸ καὶ ἀντίθετο γεγονὸς ποὺ συμβαίνει, παραμένῃ ἡ καρδιά σου ἔτσι ἀναπαυμένη καὶ εἰρηνική, μπορεῖ νὰ ἔχῃς πολὺ κέρδος· ἂν ὅμως ταράζεται, γνώριζε ὅτι κάθε ἄσκησι ποὺ κάνεις, σοῦ ἀποδίδει ἢ καμία ἢ πολὺ μικρὴ ὠφέλεια.

Ἐπιπλέον λέω καὶ αὐτό, ὅτι ὅταν ἡ καρδιὰ ἐνοχλῆται καὶ ταράσσεται, εἶναι πάντα κάτω ἀπὸ τὰ διάφορα χτυπήματα καὶ τοὺς πολέμους τῶν ἐχθρῶν καὶ τὸ σπουδαιότερο, ὅταν εἴμαστε ταραγμένοι δὲν μποροῦμε νὰ δοῦμε καλὰ καὶ νὰ διακρίνουμε τὸν ἴσιο δρόμο καὶ τὴν ἀσφαλῆ πορεία τῆς ἀρετῆς· ὁ ἐχθρός μας λοιπὸν διάβολος ποὺ μισεῖ πολὺ αὐτὴν τὴν εἰρήνη (ἐπειδὴ εἶναι μέρος, ποὺ κατοικεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ, γιὰ νὰ ἐνεργήσῃ μεγάλα πράγματα), πολλὲς φορὲς ἔρχεται σὰν φίλος καὶ δοκιμάζει νὰ μᾶς τὴν πάρη, χρησιμοποιώντας διάφορες ἐπιθυμίες , οἱ ὁποῖες μας φαίνονται πὼς εἶναι καλές· ἀλλὰ πόσο αὐτὲς εἶναι ἀπατηλὲς καὶ ψεύτικες, μπορεῖς μεταξὺ τῶν ἄλλων στοιχείων νὰ τὸ γνωρίσῃς κι ἀπὸ αὐτό· δηλαδή, ἐπειδὴ μᾶς κλέβουν τὴν εἰρήνη τῆς καρδιᾶς.

Γι᾿ αὐτό, ἂν θέλῃς νὰ ἐμποδίσῃς τὴν τόση μεγάλη ζημιά, ὅταν ὁ παρατηρητής, δηλαδὴ ὁ νοῦς καὶ ἡ προσοχὴ τοῦ νοῦ, σὲ προειδοποιήσῃ ὅτι κάποια νέα ἐπιθυμία κάποιου καλοῦ ζητεῖ νὰ μπῆ μέσα σου, μὴν τῆς ἀνοίξης τὴν εἴσοδο τῆς καρδιᾶς, ἂν δὲν ἐλευθερωθῇς πρῶτα ἀπὸ κάθε θέλημα δικό σου καὶ τὴν παρουσιάσης στὸ Θεὸ καὶ ὀμολογώντας τὴν τυφλότητα καὶ ἀγνωσία σου, νὰ τὸν παρακαλέσῃς θερμὰ νὰ σὲ φωτίσῃ μὲ τὸ δικό του φῶς, γιὰ νὰ δῇς, ἐὰν αὐτὴ ἡ ἐπιθυμία προέρχεται ἀπὸ ἀντίδικο ἐχθρό· καὶ γι᾿ αὐτό, τρέξε στὸν πνευματικό σου πατέρα καὶ ἄφησέ το, ὅσο μπορεῖς, στὴν κρίσι ἐκείνου. Ὅμως, ἂν καὶ ἡ ἐπιθυμία ἐκείνη εἶναι ἀπὸ τὸν Θεό, πρέπει ἐσύ, πρὶν νὰ τὴν ἐπιχειρήσῃς, νὰ ταπεινωθῇς καὶ νὰ θανατώσῃς τὴν μεγάλη σου προθυμία καὶ θερμότητα, ποὺ ἔχεις γι᾿ αὐτή· διότι τὸ ἔργο ἐκεῖνο, τοῦ ὁποίου προηγεῖται αὐτὴ ἡ δική σου ταπείνωσις, ἀρέσει πολὺ περισσότερο στὸ Θεό, παρὰ νὰ γίνῃ μὲ τὴν ἐπιθυμία τῆς φύσεως - μάλιστα καμιὰ φορὰ τοῦ ἀρέσει πολὺ περισσότερο ἐκείνη ἡ δική σου ταπείνωσις, παρὰ αὐτὸ τὸ ἴδιο τὸ ἔργο. Καὶ μὲ τὸν τρόπο αὐτόν, ἀφοῦ ἀποβάλλεις ἀπὸ τὸν ἑαυτό σου τὶς ἐπιθυμίες, ποὺ δὲν εἶναι καλὲς καὶ μὴ κάνονας τὶς καλές, ἂν δὲν καθησυχάσης πρῶτα τὶς φυσικές σου κινήσεις, θὰ κρατήσῃς τὴν εἰρήνη καὶ τὴν ἀσφάλεια, τὴν ἀκρόπολι τῆς καρδιᾶς σου.

Γιὰ νὰ διαφυλάξης ἀκόμη τὴν καρδιά σου εἰρηνική σε κάθε πρᾶγμα, πρέπει νὰ τὴν ἐλέγχῃς καὶ νὰ τὴν φυλᾷς ἀπὸ κάποιες ἐπιπλήξεις καὶ ἐσωτερικοὺς ἐλέγχους τῆς συνειδήσεώς σου, οἱ ὁποῖοι μερικὲς φορὲς εἶναι τοῦ διαβόλου, μολονότι φαίνονται ὅτι εἶναι τοῦ Θεοῦ, μὲ τὸ νὰ σὲ κατηγοροῦν γιὰ κάποιο λάθος· τοὺς παρόμοιους ἐλέγχους, ἀπὸ τὰ ἀποτελέσματά τους θὰ τοὺς ἀναγνωρίσῃς ἀπὸ ποῦ προέρχονται. Γιατὶ, ἂν σὲ ταπεινώνουν καὶ σὲ κάνουν ἐπιμελῆ στὸ νὰ ἐργάζεσαι καὶ δὲν σοῦ ἀφαιροῦν τὴν ἐλπίδα καὶ ἐμπιστοσύνη ποὺ ἔχεις στὸν Θεό, πρέπει νὰ τοὺς δέχεσαι σὰν ἀπὸ τὸν Θεὸ καὶ νὰ τὸν εὐχαριστῆς· ἂν ὅμως σὲ συγχύζουν καὶ σὲ κάνουν μικρόψυχο, δύσπιστο, ἀμελῆ καὶ ὀκνηρὸ στὸ καλό, νὰ εἶσαι βέβαιος πὼς προέρχονται ἀπὸ τὸν ἐχθρό· καὶ μὴ τοὺς δίνης σημασία, ἀλλὰ ἀκολούθησε τὸν δρόμο σου καὶ τὴν ἐξάσκησί σου. Γιατὶ, καὶ ἐκτὸς ἀπὸ ὅλα αὐτὰ ποὺ σοῦ εἶπα, πλέον ἀπὸ κοινοῦ, γεννιώνται στὴ καρδιά μας οἱ παρενοχλήσεις καὶ οἱ συγχύσεις, ἀπὸ τὰ περιστατικὰ τῶν ἀντιθέτων πραγμάτων, ποὺ μᾶς ἀκολουθοῦν σὲ αὐτὸν τὸν κόσμο.

Ἀλλὰ ἐσύ, γιὰ νὰ προφυλαχθῇς ἀπὸ αὐτὰ τὰ χτυπήματα τῆς συγχύσεως, μπορεῖς νὰ κάνῃς δυὸ πράγματα· τὸ ἕνα εἶναι νὰ σκεφθῇς σὲ ποιὸ εἶναι ἀντίθετα ἐκεῖνα τὰ περιστατικά· στὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὴν ψυχή; ἢ στὴν ἀγάπη τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ μας καὶ τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν μας; Γιατὶ, ἂν εἶναι ἀντίθετα στὶς ἐπιθυμίες σου καὶ τὴν ἀγάπη τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ σου (ὁ ὁποῖος εἶναι γενικὰ ὁ πρῶτος ἐχθρός σου), δὲν πρέπει νὰ τὰ ὀνομάζῃς ἀντίθετα, ἀλλὰ νὰ τὰ ἔχῃς γιὰ εὐεργεσίες καὶ βοήθεια τοῦ Ὑψίστου Θεοῦ, ὁπότε καὶ μὲ χαρούμενη καρδιὰ καὶ εὐχαριστία νὰ τὰ ἀποδέχεσαι· ἐὰν ὅμως καὶ εἶναι ἀντίθετα στὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὴν ψυχή, δὲν πρέπει οὔτε γι᾿ αὐτὸ νὰ χάνῃς τὴν εἰρήνη τῆς καρδίας σου, ὅπως θὰ μάθης στὸ ἑπόμενο κεφάλαιο· τὸ ἄλλο εἶναι νὰ ὑψώσῃς τὸν νοῦ σου στὸ Θεό, καὶ μὲ μάτια κλειστὰ (χωρὶς νὰ θέλῃς νὰ γνωρίζῃς κάτι ἄλλο), νὰ δέχεσαι κάθε περιστατικὸ ἀπὸ τὸ σπλαγχνικὸ χέρι τῆς θείας πρόνοιάς του, σὰν πρᾶγμα γεμάτο ἀπὸ διάφορα ἀγαθά .

Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ Ἀββᾶς Ἰσαάκ, ὄχημα καὶ ἁμάξι τοῦ διαβόλου ὀνομάζει τὴν σύγχυσι, πάνω στὸ ὁποῖο καθήμενος εἰσέρχεται στὴ ταλαίπωρη ψυχὴ καὶ τὴν καταποντίζει (Λόγος λγ´ ). καὶ ὁ Πέτρος ὁ Δαμασκηνὸς λέγει· «Καμμία κακία δὲν εἶναι τόσο εὔκολη γιὰ τὴν ἁμαρτία, ὅσο ἡ σύγχυσις (Φιλοκαλία).

Γι᾿ αὐτό, ἄξιο μνήμης εἶναι ἐκεῖνο, ποὺ συνήθιζε νὰ λέγῃ πάντα ὁ θεῖος Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος, σὲ κάθε περίστασι ποὺ τοῦ συνέβαινε, καλὴ καὶ κακή, δυστυχῆ καὶ εὐτυχῆ· εἶναι δὲ τὸ ἀπόφθεγμα αὐτό: «Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν οὐ γὰρ παύσομαι τοῦτο ἐπιλέγων ἀεὶ ἐπὶ πᾶσί μοι τοῖς συμβαίνουσι» (ἐκ τῶν πρὸς τὴν Διάκονον Ὀλυμπιάδα ἐπιστολῶν ια´)· τὸ ὁποῖο καὶ ὁ Θεσσαλονίκης θεῖος Γρηγόριος μιμούμενος, αὐτὸ τὸ ἴδιο συνήθιζε καὶ ἔλεγε, ὅπως βλέπουμε στὸ βίο του.

 Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης

Αόρατος Πόλεμος ( Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης )

Ἡ καρδιά σου, ἀγαπητέ, κτίσθηκε ἀπὸ τὸν Θεὸ μόνο γιὰ τὸν σκοπὸ αὐτόν, δηλαδὴ γιὰ νὰ ἀγαπᾶται καὶ νὰ κατοικῆται ἀπὸ αὐτόν. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καθημερινὰ σοῦ φωνάζει νὰ τοῦ τὴν δώσῃς: «Υἱέ, δός μου τὴν καρδιά σου» (Παρ. 23,26). Ἐπειδὴ ὅμως ὁ Θεὸς εἶναι ἡ εἰρήνη ποὺ εἶναι ἀνώτερη ἀπὸ κάθε νοῦ, πρέπει ἡ καρδιὰ ποὺ πρόκειται νὰ τὸν δεχθῆ, νὰ εἶναι εἰρηνικὴ καὶ ἀτάραχη, ὅπως εἶπε ὁ Δαβίδ: «Ἐγενήθη ὁ τόπος σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ» (Ψαλμ. 75,2). Γι᾿ αὐτὸ πρέπει πρῶτα ἀπὸ ὅλα νὰ στερεώσῃς τὴν καρδιά σου σὲ μία εἰρηνικὴ κατάστασι, ὥστε ὅλες σου οἱ ἐξωτερικές σου ἀρετὲς νὰ γεννιῶνται ἀπὸ τὴν εἰρήνη αὐτὴ καὶ ἀπὸ τὶς ἄλλες ἐσωτερικὲς ἀρετές, ὅπως εἶπε ἐκεῖνος ὁ μέγας ἡσυχαστὴς Ἀρσένιος: «Φρόντισε ὥστε ὅλη σου ἡ ἐσωτερικὴ ἐργασία νὰ εἶναι σύμφωνα μὲ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ νὰ νικήσῃς τὰ ἐξωτερικὰ πάθη». Διότι κι ἂν οἱ σωματικὲς σκληραγωγίες καὶ ὅλες οἱ ἀσκήσεις μὲ τὶς ὁποῖες ἀσκεῖται τὸ σῶμα εἶναι ἄξιες ἐπαίνου, ὅταν εἶναι μὲ διάκρισι καὶ μέτριες, ὅπως ἁρμόζει στὸ πρόσωπο ποὺ τὶς κάνει, ὅμως ἐσὺ ποτὲ δὲν θὰ ἀποκτήσῃς καμία ἀληθινὴ ἀρετὴ μόνο διὰ μέσου τῶν ἀρετῶν ποὺ ἀναφέρθηκαν προηγουμένως, παρὰ ματαιότητα καὶ κενοδοξία, ἂν καὶ οἱ ἀσκήσεις αὐτὲς δὲν παίρνουν δύναμι καὶ ζωὴ καὶ δὲν κυβερνοῦνται ἀπὸ τὶς ἐσωτερικὲς καὶ ψυχικὲς ἀρετές.

Ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου δὲν εἶναι τίποτε ἄλλο παρὰ ἕνας πόλεμος καὶ πειρασμὸς συνεχής, ὅπως εἶπε καὶ ὁ Ἰώβ: «Δὲν εἶναι ἕνα πειρατήριο ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου πάνω στὴ γῆ;» (7,1). Λοιπὸν ἐξ αἰτίας τοῦ πολέμου αὐτοῦ ἐσὺ πρέπει πάντοτε νὰ εἶσαι ἄγρυπνος καὶ νὰ προσέχῃς πολὺ καὶ νὰ παρατηρῇς τὴν καρδιά σου νὰ εἶναι πάντοτε εἰρηνικὴ καὶ ἀναπαυμένη. Καὶ ὅταν σηκώνεται ὁποιοδήποτε κῦμα ταραχῆς στὴν ψυχή σου, νὰ παραμένῃς πρόθυμος γιὰ νὰ ἡσυχάζῃς καὶ νὰ εἰρηνεύῃς ἀμέσως τὴν καρδιά σου μὴ ἀφήνοντάς την νὰ ἀλλάξη πορεία καὶ νὰ καταστραφῆ ἀπὸ τὴν ταραχὴ ἐκείνη. Γιατὶ ἡ καρδιὰ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου εἶναι ὅμοια μὲ τὸ βαρίδι τοῦ ὡρολογιοῦ καὶ μὲ τὸ τιμόνι τοῦ καραβιοῦ. Καὶ ὅπως ὅταν κάποιο βαρίδι τοῦ ὡρολογιοῦ ξεκρεμασθῆ ἀπὸ τὴν θέσι του ἀμέσως κινοῦνται καὶ ὅλοι οἱ τροχοί, καὶ ὅταν τὸ τιμόνι δὲν πάρη καλὴ στροφή, τότε ὅλο τὸ καράβι φεύγει ἀπὸ τὴν κανονική του πορεία, τὸ ἴδιο συμβαίνει καὶ μὲ τὴν καρδιά: ὅταν μία φορὰ ταραχθῆ, ἀμέσως συγκινοῦνται ὅλα τὰ ἐσωτερικὰ καὶ ἐξωτερικὰ ὄργανα τοῦ σώματος καὶ ὁ ἴδιος ὁ νοῦς βγαίνει ἀπὸ τὴ σωστή του κίνησι καὶ τὸν ὀρθὸ λόγο του. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ πρέπει πάντοτε νὰ εἰρηνεύῃς τὴν καρδιά σου, κάθε φορὰ ποὺ τύχει κάποια ἐνόχλησι καὶ σύγχυσι ἐσωτερική, εἴτε τὴν ὥρα τῆς προσευχῆς, εἴτε σὲ κάθε ἄλλον καιρό.

Καὶ νὰ γνωρίζῃς τὸ ἑξῆς· τότε ξέρεις νὰ προσεύχεσαι καλά, ὅταν γνωρίζῃς νὰ ἐργάζεσαι καλὰ καὶ νὰ παραμένῃς εἰρηνικός, διότι καὶ ὁ ἀπόστολος παραγγέλλει νὰ προσευχώμαστε εἰρηνικά, χωρὶς ὀργὴ καὶ διαλογισμοὺς (Α´ Τιμ. 2,8). Ἔτσι σκέψου ὅτι κάθε ἐργασία σου πρέπει νὰ γίνεται μὲ εἰρήνη, γλυκύτητα καὶ χωρὶς βία. Μὲ συντομία, ὅλη γενικὰ ἡ ἄσκησις τῆς ζωῆς σου πρέπει νὰ γίνεται γιὰ νὰ ἔχῃς εἰρήνη στὴν καρδιά σου καὶ νὰ μὴ συγχίζεται καὶ στὴ συνέχεια μὲ τὴν εἰρήνη αὐτὴ νὰ ἐκτελῇς ὅλα σου τὰ ἔργα μὲ εἰρήνη καὶ πραότητα, ὅπως ἔχει γραφῇ: «Τέκνο μου μὲ πραότητα νὰ ἐκτελῇς τὰ ἔργα σου» (Σείρ. 3,17), γιὰ νὰ ἀξιωθῇς τοῦ μακαρισμοῦ τῶν πράων ποὺ λέγει: «Μακάριοι ὅσοι φέρονται μὲ πραότητα στοὺς ἄλλους, διότι αὐτοὶ θὰ κληρονομήσουν τὴν γῆ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας» (Ματθ. 5,5).

Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης

Why are we so ready to judge our neighbor? ( St. Dorotheos of Gaza )

Why are we so ready to judge our neighbor? Why are we so concerned about the burden of others? We have plenty to be concerned about, each one has his own debt and his own sins. It is for God alone to judge, to justify or to condemn. He knows the state of each one of us and our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution and our preparedness, and it is for him to judge each of these things according to the knowledge that he alone has. For God judges the affairs of a bishop in one way and those of a prince in another. His judgment is for an abbot or for a disciple, he judges differently the senior and the neophyte, the sick man and the healthy man. Who could understand all these judgments except the one who has done everything, formed everything, knows everything?

I remember once hearing the following story: a slave ship put in at a certain port where there lived a holy virgin who was in earnest about her spiritual life. When she learned about the arrival of the ship she was glad, for she wanted to buy a small serving maid for herself. She thought to herself, ‘I will take her into my home and bring her up in my way of life so that she knows nothing of the evils of the world.’ So she sent and enquired of the master of the ship and found that he had two small girls who he thought would suit her. Whereupon she gladly paid the price and took one of the children into her house. The ship’s master went away. He had not gone very far when there met him the leader of a dancing troupe who saw the other small girl with him and wanted to buy her; the price was agreed and paid, and he took her away with him. Now take a look at God’s mystery; see what his judgment was. Which of us could give any judgment about this case? The holy virgin took one of these little ones to bring her up in the fear of God, to instruct her in every good work, to teach her all that belongs to the monastic state and all the sweetness of holy commandments of God. The other unfortunate child was taken for the dancing troupe, to be trained in the works of the devil. What effect would teaching her this orgiastic dancing have, but the ruin of her soul? What can we have to say about this frightful judgment? Here were two little girls taken away from their parents by violence. Neither knew where they came from; one is found in the hands of God and the other falls into the hands of the devil. Is it possible to say that what God asks from the one he asks also from the other? Surely not! Suppose they both fell into fornication or some other deadly sin; is it possible that they both face the same judgment or that their fall is the same? How does it appear to the mind of God when one learns about the Judgment and about the Kingdom of God day and night, while the other unfortunate knows nothing of it, never hears anything good but only the contrary, everything shameful, everything diabolical? How can he allow them to be examined by the same standard?

~St. Dorotheos of Gaza

Dealing with Depression ( Elder Porphyrios )

Almost all illnesses are caused by our lack of trust in the Lord. This creates stress. Stress is caused by the negation of the religious sentiment. Unless you love the Lord and preoccupy yourself with holy deeds, you will certainly have depression and nasty feelings.

There is one thing which helps someone who is depressed: work and showing an interest in living: For example having a garden, some plants, flowers, trees, or getting outside, going for a walk in the countryside, or for a simple walk. All these create an interest and stop a person’s apathy. They act like medicine.

Moreover, being interested in music or the arts is very beneficial. But I specially emphasize the need to show an interest for the Church, for the Gospel and the liturgical services. Just by studying the Lord’s word one is healed without realizing it.

We ought not to be discouraged or be in a hurry. We ought not to judge things superficially or by their external appearance. If for example you happen to see a naked woman or one who is dressed inappropriately, do not criticize her but try to enter her soul. She may have a good heart and may express her existential worries through her wild appearance. She may process an inner strength and wish to show off arousing interest. She may have a distorted view of things because of her ignorance. Imagine what will happen if she does actually come to know Christ. She will become a believer and will direct all this passion towards Christ. She will do anything to attract divine grace. She will become a saint.

Because of our anxiety and our fears we often cause harm to someone without meaning to and without realizing it, even if we love him very much, like a mother does her child. A mother may transfer to the child all her anxiety about his life, his health and progress, even though she does not express it with words. This kind of love, this natural love, may sometimes cause harm. However, this does not happen with the love of Christ which is coupled with prayer and a careful way of life. This love sanctifies and calms a person, since God is love.

Translation of excerpts from the book «ΓΕΡΟΝΤΟΣ ΠΟΡΦΥΡΙΟΥ ΙΕΡΟΜΟΝΑΧΟΥ Ανθολόγιο Συμβουλών»
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