Friday, October 25, 2013

Elder, why does God allow so many young people to die? ( Elder Paisios )

God arranges things correspondingly. When I hear of the death of some youth, I mourn, but I mourn as a man. Because, if we examine things more deeply, we see that, the older someone gets, the greater struggle he has, and the more sins he adds. Especially when he is worldly, as the years pass by, instead of his spiritual state improving, it gets worse with cares of life, with injustices, etc. Because of this, it is more triumphant when God takes a youth.

-Elder, why does God allow so many young people to die? No one has a say with God when he will die. God takes each person in the best instant of his life, in a special way, for him to give up his soul. If He sees that someone will become better, He allows him to live. If, however, He sees that he will become worse, He takes him, in order to save him. There are some further who have a sinful life, but have the attitude to do good, and He takes them near Him, before they are allowed to do it, because He knows that they would do good, if only He would give them the chance. It is as if He tells them: “Don't tire yourself; your good intentions suffice.” With others, because they are very good, He decides to take them near Him, because Paradise requires flower buds.

Naturally, it is difficult for parents and relatives to understand this. They see that a small child dies, that Christ took a little angel, and the parents cry and wail, while they should be joyful, because, do they know what would happen if he grew older? Would he have been able to have been saved? When we left Asia Minor by boat in 1924 to come to Greece, I was a baby. The boat was full of refugees, and, as my mother had me in swaddling clothes, a sailor trampled on top of me. My mother thought that I had died and began to cry. A fellow villager of ours opened the swaddling clothes, and confirmed that I had not been hurt at all. If I had died then, I surely would have gone to Paradise. Now that I am so old, and [though] I have done so much asceticism, I am not sure that I will go to Paradise.

But parents can also be helped by the death of children. They should know that, from that instant, they have an intercessor in Paradise. When they die, their children will come with the six-winged angels to the gate of Paradise to greet their soul. This is not a small matter! To small children who were further burdened here by sicknesses or by some disability, Christ will say: “Come to Paradise, and receive the greatest portion.” And then they will tell Him: “It is beautiful here, our Christ, but we want our mommy to be near us.” And Christ will hear them and save the mother also in some manner.

Of course, mothers should not reach the other extreme. Some mothers believe that their children who died became Saints, and they fall into error. One mother wanted me to give me something from her child who died as a blessing, because she believed that he became a Saint. “Is it blessed,” she asked me, “for me to give away his things?” “No,” I told her, “it is better to not give them away.” One other had attached a photograph of her child who had been killed by the Germans to the Crucified One on the evening of Holy Friday, and said: “And my child suffered like Christ.” The women who were sitting around passing the night by the Crucified One let her go, so that she would not be wounded. What could they say? She was [already] wounded.

Elder Paisios

Correcting the misdeeds of others ( Elder Paisios )

There is great skill in learning how to correct the misdeeds of others. A direct attack rarely succeeds. Elder Paisios was a master at this. He often used his charming sense of humor to correct others.

Here is one example

The Elder was sitting in his garden with a few pilgrims having a discussion on spiritual matters. A little boy, standing nearby was hitting the ground with a piece of wood making a loud noise, thus attracting the attention of the pilgrims. The Elder, who had a very simple and charming way of telling people how to correct their mistakes without hurting their feelings, turned to the child and whispered laughingly:
- George, dont hit so hard because it is night time in America, which is located right underneath us, and you will wake up its citizens.
The child obeyed immediately, while the relatives were laughing with the charming way Father Paisios told him to stop.

Είναι ασφάλεια η προσευχή ( Γέροντας Παϊσιος )

- Πώς θα νιώσουμε, γέροντα, την προσευχή ως ανάγκη;

- Έπρεπε να είχατε πάει στον πόλεμο για να μπορούμε να συνεννοηθούμε! Στο στρατό, εν καιρώ πολέμου,όταν ήμασταν σε συνεχή επαφή και "εν διαρκεί ακροάσει" με το Κέντρο, είχαμε περισσότερη σιγουριά. Όταν επικοινωνούσαμε κάθε δύο ώρες, νιώθαμε μια ασφάλεια. Όταν επικοινωνούσαμε μόνο δυο φορές την ημέρα, πρωί και βράδυ, τότε νιώθαμε ξεκρέμαστοι.

Το ίδιο συμβαίνει και με την προσευχή. Όσο περισσότερο προσεύχεται κανείς τόσο περισσότερη πνευματική σιγουριά νιώθει. Είναι ασφάλεια η προσευχή…

απόσπασμα απ’το βιβλίο "Περί προσευχής" (6ος τόμος) του γέρ. Παϊσίου, εκδ. Ι.Η.Ιω Θεολόγου Σουρωτής Θεσ/νίκης

The key to overcoming our passions ( Saint Hesychius )

Saint Hesychius give this advice on our struggle to overcome the passions:

One who is engaged in the spiritual struggle must have at every moment the following four things: humility, extreme attentiveness, refutation (of the thoughts) and prayer.
Humility, in so far as its adversaries in combat are the demons of pride, so that he will have at hand Christ's help in his heart, for ' the Lord resists the proud.' (James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5)
Attentiveness, so that one does not allow the heart to have any thought, no matter how good it seems.
Denial, so that as soon as one has detected a thought that has come, he may repulse it immediately with anger.
Prayer, so that after refuting a thought, one may immediately cry out to Christ with 'groanings which cannot be uttered' (Romans 8:26) Then the ascetic will see the enemy bound or chased by the honorable name of Jesus, like dust by the wind, or like smoke that vanishes with it's dreams.Saint Hesychius adds the following on the importance of prayer,

One who does not have prayer that is free from the thoughts is without a weapon for battle. I understand prayer to be that which is carried unceasingly within the depths of the soul, so that the enemy who is secretly fighting may be vanquished and scorched by this invocation to Christ. For you must look with the sharply focused eye of the mind so that you will recognize what has entered into it, and after doing so, immediately cut off the head of the snake through refutation, and at the same time call on Christ with groaning. Through experience you will come to know God's invisible help; then you will see clearly the true condition of the heart.

Saint Theophan advises in his commentary on the teaching of Saint Hesychius,

A person whose decision to belong to the Lord is sincere cannot by-pass the path described. He may preform great labors and get around things in various ways, but until he comes upon this path, it is to no purpose. I am pointing you directly to the path so that you do not wander all over the place. Be more diligent in your undertaking, and you will find success. However, you must labor with all your might, because without labor there will be nothing.

Reference: The Spiritual LIfe, pp 249-253

Balancing life with your children ( Elder Paisios )

Today we lead such busy lives that many say, "I don't even have time for prayer. At the end of the say I am so tired. With Children and the trend of both parents working this is a common problem these days. The only solution is to make sure you have the right priorities in your life. To lead a balanced life you need to struggle to simplify it. First examine why it is necessary for a mother to work while the children are living at home. Is this a necessity or is it just to gain material things.

Elder Paisios advises:

It's better for a mother to be involved with the nurturing of her children... A mother [if she is not working a full time job] can speak to her children about Christ; she can read the Lives of the Saints to them. Thus, at the same time she will be occupying herself dusting off her own soul so that it will be spiritually shiny. The mother's spiritual life will then quietly help the souls of her children. Thus, her children will live happily, and she will be joyful because she will have Christ within her. If a mother doesn't find the time to say even the Trisagion, how can she expect he children to be sanctified?
When she does her housework, can't she pray at the same time? It was my mother who taught me to way the Jesus Prayer. When we were children and had done some mischief, and my mother was about to get angry with us, I remembering her saying, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." When she put the bread in the oven, she would say, "In the name of the Christ and Panaghia." And whenever kneading, or cooking, again, she constantly said the Jesus Prayer. In this manner, she herself was blessed, as were the bread and the food whe was preparing, and so were those who partook of it later.I wonder if in today's world we appreciate the significance of a spiritual upbringing. The elders of our Church tell us the mother's traditional role is a most important one. Elder Paisios says, "The mother's devotion has great significance. If the mother has humility and fear of God, then family life is smooth." The challenge today with its materialistic orientation is to seek to simplify life so one parent can dedicate themselves to the nurturing of their children both physically and spiritually. Children are geared to learn by observation. You are the models they will begin their life with. Make that model as close to the image of God as is possible.

A good friend told me a story of his early child raising days. He had the habit of not going to Church each Sunday, but he instead stayed in bed and then getting up after his wife and children had gone to church to read the Sunday paper in peace. One day, is young son made the comment to his Mom, "I cant wait until I get as old as Dad. Then I won't have to get up and go to Church each Sunday. I can stay home and read the paper and relax." He over heard his son saying this and this woke him up. He realized he was setting a bad example for his son. From that day on he never missed a day in Church.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels IV: Family Life, pp 95-96
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