Saturday, July 15, 2017

Humble yourself and you will see the glory of God within yourself. ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

When people curse us, we must consider ourselves unworthy of praise, imagining that if we were worthy, everyone would be bowing down to us. We must always, and before everyone, humble ourselves, according to the teachings of St. Isaac the Syrian: "Humble yourself and you will see the glory of God within yourself."

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Να λέμε όλο και περισσότερο την "Ευχή".... ( Γερόντισσα Μακρίνα )


Να προσέξουμε την "ευχή". Να λέμε όλο και περισσότερο την "ευχή", διότι όσο πλησιάζουν τα χρόνια προς το τέλος του κόσμου τόσο θα απομακρύνεται ο άνθρωπος από τον Θεό.
Ο όσιος Εφραίμ ο Σύρος έλεγε πως όσο πλησιάζουμε στα χρόνια του αντιχρίστου τόσο χειρότεροι θα γινόμαστε Μοναχοί και Κοσμικοί.
Σήμερα δεν υπάρχει οικογένεια που δεν έχει προβλήματα κυρίως από τα παιδιά της. Φοβερά προβλήματα. Φθάσαμε στην κατάσταση που ο ένας να μην θέλει να δει τον άλλον.
Ο διάβολος περιλαβαίνει και τα Μοναστήρια. Έχει μια ουρά, που είναι απεριόριστη και τυλίγεται στον καθέναν και του λέει:
«Μην κάνεις εκείνο, κάνε το άλλο, μην κάνεις προσευχή, μην κάνεις αυτό το κάνεις μεθαύριο, κοιμήσου» και φέρνει τη χαύνωση.

Εμείς λοιπόν να κάνουμε υπακοή… Αν εμείς δεν κάνουμε υπακοή δεν θα μας σκεπάζει η Χάρις Του. Τίποτα δεν γίνεται έτσι. Και να προσεύχεται ένας άνθρωπος από το πρωί μέχρι το βράδυ για έναν άλλο άνθρωπο, αν δεν έχει εκείνος προαίρεση δεν τον βοηθάει η προσευχή.
Γι΄αυτό θέλει λοιπόν να έχουμε καλή προαίρεση, να θέλουμε τη σωτηρία μας και να θέλουμε να αγωνιστούμε.Αγώνας! Πώς είναι σε ένα γήπεδο σε ένα στάδιο που αγωνίζονται να κερδίσουν το κύπελλο, έτσι κι εμείς πρέπει να τρέχουμε να λέμε την ευχή συνέχεια. Είναι κόπος. Για να πουν οι Άγιοι Απόστολοι » Αδιαλείπτως προσεύχεσθε» για να πει ο Χριστός: «Γρηγορείτε και προσεύχεσθε, ίνα μη εισέλθητε εις πειρασμόν» δεν το είπε τυχαία, ένας Θεός το είπε.
Γιατί το είπε; Για να αγωνιστούμε. Όταν έχει την προσευχή κανείς έχει ευκινησία στη δουλειά του, έχει χάρη και ζητά να εργαστεί τον Θεόν και δεν υπολογίζει τον εαυτό του καθόλου. Δεν υπολογίζει κόπο, θέλει τον Θεό να ευχαριστήσει. ‘Ετσι δείχνει την αγάπη του στον Θεό. Γρηγορείτε και προσεύχεσθε. Τον λόγο αυτό να τον έχουμε ανά πάσα στιγμή στη διάνοιά μας, να μη μας φεύγει.
Οι μέρες είναι λίγες, οι ώρες είναι λίγες και πρέπει αυτά τα πράγματα να τα εμεταλλευόμαστε και να μη γυρίζουμε από το άλλο πλευρό. ‘Οταν ο διάβολος μας λέει ότι δεν μπορείς να του λέμε:''Όχι μπορώ, θα σηκωθώ''.

Σήκω σήκω γιατί ήρθε η Δευτέρα Παρουσία. Όταν έχουμε αυτόν τον λογισμό, ότι ήρθε η Δευτέρα Παρουσία θα πεταγόμαστε μέχρι εκεί πάνω στο ντιβάνι….».

Από το βιβλίο: Λόγια καρδιάς, Γερόντισσα Μακρίνα, 1921-1995.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Akathist to St. John Maximovitch


Tone 8

Kontakion I

Chosen wonderworker and superb servant of Christ, who pourest out in the latter times inexhaustible streams of inspiration and multitude of miracles. We praise Thee with love and call out to Thee: Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Ikos I

An angel in the flesh wast Thou manifested in the latter times by the grace of God Who ever careth for men. Seeing the beauty of Thy virtues, we Thy children now cry out to Thee:

Rejoice, Thou who didst live in virtue from earliest childhood.

Rejoice, Thou who didst ever live in fear of God and do His holy will.

Rejoice, Thou who didst manifest the grace of God in numberless virtues.

Rejoice, Thou who didst mystically hear the distant prayers of those in distress.

Rejoice, Thou who wast filled with love for Thy fellow men and didst do all possible for their salvation.

Rejoice, Thou who dost bring joy to all who pray to Thee in faith and love.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 2

Seeing the abundance and variety of Thy virtues. O holy Hierarch, we see in Thee a living source of God's wonders in our time. Thou dost refresh with Thy love and miracles all who cry in faith to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 2

Being filled with love. Thou wast also filled with theology. O holy Father. And in Thee the knowledge of God flowed forth again in love for suffering men. Do Thou teach us also to know the true God in love as we call out to Thee in admiration.

Rejoice, firm stronghold of Orthodox truth.

Rejoice, precious vessel of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, righteous accuser of impiety and false doctrine.

Rejoice, ardent doer of the commandments of God.

Rejoice, severe ascetic who gavest thyself no repose.

Rejoice, loving shepherd of the flock of Christ.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 3

By God's mercy Thou wast manifest as a father to orphans and instructor of the young, raising them in the fear of God and preparing them for the service of God. Therefore all Thy children look to Thee with love and cry out with gratitude to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Dwellers in heaven should be praising Thee and not we on earth, for our words are feeble beside Thy deeds. Yet offering to God what we have we cry out to Thee thus:

Rejoice, Thou who didst protect Thy children by Thy constant prayer.

Rejoice, Thou who didst ever guard Thy flock by the sign of the Cross.

Rejoice, Thou whose love knew no bounds of country or race.

Rejoice, bright luminary beloved by all.

Rejoice, model of spiritual meekness.

Rejoice, giver of spiritual consolation to those in need.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 4

Bewildered by Thy deeds of piety and love, we know not how to praise Thee worthily, O Hierarch John. Thou didst travel to the ends of the earth to save Thy people and preach the gospel to those in darkness. Thanking God for Thine apostolic labors, we cry out to Him: Alleluia.

Ikos 4

The people of many lands beheld Thy life and marveled at God's mercies even in these latter times. And so we also, marveling, cry out in awe:

Rejoice, enlightener of those in the darkness of unbelief.

Rejoice, Thou who didst follow Thy people to the farthest East and West.

Rejoice, fountain of miracles poured out by God.

Rejoice, loving chastiser of those who have gone astray.

Rejoice, speedy comfort to those who repent of their sins.

Rejoice, support of those who go on the right path.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 5

Thou wast manifest as a vehicle of God’s power to stop the destructive forces of fallen nature, O holy Hierarch, preserving Thy people on the island from the deadly wind and storm by Thy prayer and the sign of the Cross. So preserve us also who cry out in wonder unto God: Alleluia.

Ikos 5

All who have trusted in Thy help in desperate circumstances and adversities have found deliverance, O bold intercessor before the Throne of God. Therefore, we too do place our hope in Thee to protect us in dangers by Thy prayers before God as we call out to Thee:

Rejoice, Thou who didst stop the powers of nature from doing harm to Thy flock.

Rejoice, Thou who providest by Thy prayer for all in need.

Rejoice, inexhaustible bread for the hungry.

Rejoice, abundant wealth for those who live in poverty.

Rejoice, consolation for those in sorrow.

Rejoice, quick uplifting for those Who have fallen.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 6

Thou wast manifest as a new Moses, leading his flock out of slavery, O Hierarch John. Do deliver us also from slavery to sins and the enemies of God as we cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Thou didst do the impossible and persuade the authorities of this world to have pity on Thy flock, O good shepherd. Do pray for us now that we may live in peace and quiet, saving our souls as we gratefully cry to Thee:

Rejoice, helper of all who call upon Thee in faith.

Rejoice, Thou who deliverest from death and disaster.

Rejoice, Thou who preservest from lies and slander.

Rejoice, preserver of the innocent from bonds.

Rejoice, Thou who foilest the attacks of the unrighteous.

Rejoice, destroyer of lies and exalter of truth.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 7

O lover of the saints of East and West, Thou didst restore to the Orthodox Church the saints of the West, of lands which had fallen away from the truth. Now with these saints Thou dost pray for us to God as we on earth cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 7

O fervent venerator of the holy Hierarchs of Gaul, Thou wast manifest in the latter times as one of them, exhorting Thy flock to preserve the same Orthodox faith that they confessed, and astonishing the peoples of the West by Thy holy life. Now preserve us in that same faith as we cry out to Thee:

Rejoice, new Martin by Thy miracles and ascetic feats.

Rejoice, new Germanus by Thy confession of the Orthodox faith.

Rejoice, new Hilary by Thy divine theology.

Rejoice, new Gregory by Thy love for God's saints.

Rejoice, new Faustus by Thy gentle love and monastic fervor.

Rejoice, new Caesarius by Thy firm yet loving rule of the Church of God.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 8

At the end of Thy life, O holy Hierarch, Thou wast called to the New World, to offer there Thy witness of ancient Christianity and to suffer persecution for Thy righteousness, thus perfecting Thy soul for heaven. Now marveling at Thy patience and long-suffering, we all cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 8

O laborer of Christ's vineyard who knew no rest even at the end of Thy much-toiling life, help us now in our labors as we strive to be faithful to Christ, crying out in praise to Thee:

Rejoice, Thou who didst endure to the end and so attain salvation.

Rejoice, Thou who wast deemed worthy to die before the icon of the Mother of God.

Rejoice, Thou who didst keep Thy faith and courage in the midst of unjust persecution.

Rejoice, Thou who didst labor to the end for Thy flock and meet death sitting as a hierarch.

Rejoice, Thou Who didst return through the air to be buried amidst the flock.

Rejoice, Thou who workest Wonders for those who come to Thy Sepulchre with faith and love.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 9

All angel-kind rejoiced at Thy soul's ascent to their celestial home marveling at the wonders Thou didst perform on earth through the action of the Holy Spirit, to whom we sing: Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Orators find it impossible to describe Thy life of sanctity with their many and eloquent words, O righteous John, for Thou didst become a living house for the power of the ineffable God. Yet, unable to fall silent at the wonder shown to our age of feeble faith, we glorify Thee:

Rejoice, divine palace where from the counsel of the Good King is given.

Rejoice, small and humble abode containing the spacious beauty of angels’ mansions.

Rejoice, Thou who didst gain a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Rejoice, infirmary wherein all manner of diseases are divinely healed.

Rejoice closet wherein Thy holy labor of prayer was hidden.

Rejoice, blessed temple of the Holy Spirit.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 10

Wishing to save the world, the Saviour of all hath sent a new saint among us and through him hath called us out of the dark recesses of sin. Hearing this call to repentance, the unworthy ones in turn cry out to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 10

Thou art a wall sheltering us from adversity, O Hierarch John, for through Thy heavenly intercessions we are delivered from the attacks of demonic passions and from afflictions which beset us on earth. Before Thy firm support of prayer, we cry with faith:

Rejoice, sight to the blinded.

Rejoice, strength and life to those on the bed of death.

Rejoice, God-revealed advice to those in doubt and confusion.

Rejoice, refreshing water to those perishing in the heat of sorrow.

Rejoice, loving father to the lonely and abandoned.

Rejoice, holy teacher of those who seek the Truth.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 11

Thy life was a hymn to the Most Holy Trinity, surpassing others in thought, word and deed, O most blessed John. For with much wisdom Thou didst explain the precepts of the true Faith, reaching us to sing with faith, hope and love to the one God in Trinity: Alleluia.

Ikos 11

We see Thee as a radiant lamp of Orthodoxy amidst the darkness of ignorance, O God-chosen pastor of Christ's flock, our Father John. For even after Thy repose Thou dost speak the truth to the ignorant and give instruction to those who seek guidance and to all who cry to Thee:

Rejoice, radiance of divine wisdom to those in ignorance.

Rejoice, rainbow of quiet joys for the meek.

Rejoice, thunder to stubborn sinners.

Rejoice, lightning of the zeal of God. Rejoice, rain of God's dogmas.

Rejoice, shower of theological thoughts.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 12

Grace hath been poured out in the last days upon us all. Beholding this grace come forth from a holy hierarch who once did walk among us, let us receive it with reverence and thanksgiving, crying to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Singing in praise to God, the heavenly choir of saints rejoiceth that He hath not forsaken the fallen and unbelieving world, but hath manifested His almighty power in Thee, his meek and humble servant. O blessed John, with all the saints we greet Thee and give honor to Thee:

Rejoice, new star of righteousness shining in heaven's firmament.

Rejoice, new prophet who wast sent before the final unleashing of evil.

Rejoice, new Jonah warning all of the wages of sin.

Rejoice, new Baptist drawing all to a life of prayer and repentance.

Rejoice, new Paul suffering to preach the gospel in the spirit of truth.

Rejoice, new apostle whose miracles instill in us faith and awe.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 13

O holy and most wondrous Hierarch John, consolation for all the sorrowing, accept now our prayerful offering that through Thy prayers to our Lord we may be spared gehenna and by Thy God-pleasing intercession we may cry eternally: Alleluia. Thrice.

Ikos 1 and Kontakion 1 are read again.

Ikos 1

An angel in the flesh wast Thou manifested in the latter times by the grace of God Who ever careth for men. Seeing the beauty of Thy virtues, we Thy children now cry out to Thee.

Rejoice, Thou who didst live in virtue from earliest childhood.

Rejoice, Thou who didst ever live in fear of God and do His holy will.

Rejoice, Thou who didst manifest the grace of God in numberless virtues.

Rejoice, Thou who didst mystically hear the distant prayers of those in distress.

Rejoice, Thou who wast filled with love for Thy fellow men and didst do all possible for their salvation.

Rejoice, Thou who dost bring joy to all who pray to Thee in faith and love.

Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 1

Chosen wonderworker and superb servant of Christ, who pourest out in the latter times inexhaustible streams of inspiration and a multitude of miracles. We praise Thee with love, and call out to Thee: Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Monday, June 26, 2017

He who has acquired perfect love for God goes through this life as if he did not exist. ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

 
He who has acquired perfect love for God goes through this life as if he did not exist. For he considers himself a stranger to all that is visible, and awaits with patience that which is unseen. He is completely transformed into love for God and has abandoned all worldly attachments.


St. Seraphim of Sarov

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Γιατί να πω τα αμαρτήματα μου στον παπά και δεν τα λέω καλύτερα στην εικόνα του Χριστού; ( Αρχιμανδρίτου Ελπιδίου Βαγιανάκη )

Γιατί να πω τα αμαρτήματα μου στον παπά και δεν τα λέω καλύτερα στην εικόνα του Χριστού;


Είναι γεγονός ότι ο Χριστός μας είναι πανταχού παρών κι όπου κι αν είμαστε ακούει την προσευχή μας.
Μόνο σε μια περίπτωση ο Κύριος μας, αρνείται να μας ακούσει και να μας συγχωρέσει.
Όταν ενώ δίπλα μας έχουμε τον εκπρόσωπο Του, τον πνευματικό ιερέα, εμείς δεν πάμε με ταπείνωση και με απλότητα να εξαγορεύσουμε τα αμαρτήματά μας σ’ αυτόν, αλλά γεμάτοι εγωισμό, που τόσο πολύ αποστρέφεται ο Θεός, και ντροπή, για να μην ταπεινωθούμε στον εξομολόγο, καταφεύγουμε στην άψυχη εικόνα για να πούμε τα αμαρτήματα μας.
Κι επειδή αδελφέ μου, σε βλέπω ακόμη διστακτικό, θα σου εξηγήσω καλύτερα γιατί δεν είναι σωστός αυτός ο τρόπος εξομολόγησης.
Κατ’ αρχάς, ο Κύριος τη θεία εξουσία της συγχώρεσης των αμαρτιών μας δεν την έδωσε σε εικόνες ή σε άλλα άψυχα πράγματα, αλλά την έδωσε στους Αποστόλους Του και στους διαδόχους τους, λέγοντας:


«...λάβετε Πνεῦμα Ἅγιον. ἄν τινων ἀφῆτε τάς ἁμαρτίας, ἀφίενται αὐτοῖς, ἄν τινων κρατῆτε, κεκράτηνται».
(Ἰωάν. Κ΄ 22 - 23)


Όπως λοιπόν κι εσύ βλέπεις, επειδή μόνο αυτοί έχουν το δικαίωμα να συγχωρούν ή όχι, είμαστε υποχρεωμένοι για την αγάπη του Χριστού μας να καταφεύγουμε στον πνευματικό εξομολόγο κι εκεί, με ταπείνωση και συντριβή καρδιάς.


Ν’ ανοίξουμε τη γεμάτη από αμαρτίες ψυχή μας και να αφήσουμε να ξεγλιστρήσουν στο πετραχήλι του ιερέα τα πονηρά φίδια της αμαρτίας, γιατί όπως λέει ο άγιος Ιωάννης ο Θεολόγος:


«ἐάν ὁμολογῶμεν τάς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστι καί δίκαιος, ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τάς ἁμαρτίας καί καθαρίσῃ ἡμας ἀπό πάσης ἀδικίας». ( Α΄ Ἰωάν. α΄, 9 )


Ένας άλλος λόγος που δεν θέλει ο Χριστός μας να καταφεύγουμε στην άψυχη εικόνα, αλλά στον ιερέα Του, είναι ο εξής:
Η εικόνα δεν είναι σε θέση ούτε να μας συγχωρήσει, αλλά ούτε και να μιλήσει και να μας συμβουλέψει και συνεπώς να μας βοηθήσει να σηκωθούμε από τα λαβυρινθώδη πλοκάμια της αμαρτίας.
Η εικόνα δεν μπορεί να μας συγχωρήσει, ούτε να μας βεβαιώσει ότι μας συγχώρεσε ο Θεός.
Είναι σαν να καταφεύγουμε, μέσα στον ψηλό πυρετό της αρρώστιας μας, στην εικόνα του φίλου γιατρού μας κι εκεί, να τον παρακαλούμε να μας θεραπεύσει.
Μα, είναι δυνατόν να γίνει αυτή η θεραπεία, χωρίς εμείς να πάμε προσωπικά σ’ αυτόν, στο ιατρείο του, να μας εξετάσει, να κάνει τη διάγνωση και να μας δώσει τα απαραίτητα φάρμακα;
Έτσι κι εδώ, είναι ανάγκη να πάμε προσωπικά στο ιατρείο της ψυχής, στο εξομολογητήριο.
Εκεί, γονατισμένοι ταπεινά μπροστά στον ιερέα πνευματικό, ας αποθέσουμε από την κουρασμένη μας ψυχή τ’ αγκάθια και τα τριβόλια των αμαρτιών μας, για να ακούσουμε τη φωνή του Χριστού μας, που με το στόμα του εξομολόγου θα μας χαρίσει τη συγχώρεση των αμαρτιών και θα σκορπίσει μέσα μας την ειρήνη και τη χαρά.
 
Αρχιμανδρίτου Ελπιδίου Βαγιανάκη

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Has someone offended thee? ( Saint John Chrysostom )


Has someone offended thee? Guard thy breast with the sign of the Cross; remember what took place on the Cross, and all will be extinguished. Think not of offenses only, but recall also whatever good thou hast received from the one who has offended thee, and at once thou shalt grow meek. Bring to mind the fear of God, and quickly thou shalt grow more temperate and calm. Train thyself not to offend another during offenses themselves, and then, when offended, thou wilt not feel grief. Think to thyself that he who is offending thee is in a frenzy and not in his right mind, and then thou wilt not be vexed at the offense.

Saint John Chrysostom

Saturday, June 10, 2017

God is everywhere. ( Elder Joseph the Hesychast )


 


“God is everywhere. There is no place God is not…You cry out to Him, ‘Where art Thou, my God?’ And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.’ Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, ‘God!’ In Him we live and move.

We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God. Everything praises and blesses God. All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord!”

Elder Joseph the Hesychast

Monday, June 5, 2017

Entering Hell on Pentecost – With Prayer ( Fr. Stephen Freeman )



Pascha (Easter) comes with a great note of joy in the Christian world. Christ is risen from the dead and our hearts rejoice. That joy begins to wane as the days pass. Our lives settle back down to the mundane tasks at hand. After 40 days, the Church marks the Feast of the Ascension, often attended by only a handful of the faithful (Rome has more-or-less moved the Ascension to a Sunday to make it easier). Some excitement returns with the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Pascha, which conveniently falls on a Sunday making its observance easier in a too-busy-to-notice world. Lost in all of this, however, is a subtext (perhaps it is the main text).
It is a liturgical practice that in Orthodoxy begins some weeks before Great Lent. It is a frontal assault on Hades.
The traditional name for these celebrations is “Soul Saturdays.” They are celebrations of the Divine Liturgy on Saturday mornings offered for the souls of the departed. Most of the Saturdays in Great Lent have them. They make a fitting prelude for Holy Week and Pascha. At Pascha, Christ Himself “tramples down death by death and upon those in the tombs bestows life.” This is the Great and Holy Sabbath – the true and Great Soul Saturday.


This is the great theme of Pascha itself. Christ’s Resurrection is, strangely, not so much about Christ as it is about Christ’s action. Many modern Christians treat Pascha (Easter) as though it were a celebration of Jesus’ personal return after a tragic death. Orthodoxy views Christ’s Holy Week, Crucifixion, Descent into Hades and Resurrection as one unending, uninterrupted assault on Hades. This is the great mystery of Pascha – the destruction of death and Hades. Death is the “last enemy.” Those who forget this are like soldiers who have forgotten the purpose of the war in which they fight.


 
The cycle of prayers assaulting Hades reaches a climax on the day of Pentecost. On the evening of that Sunday, the faithful gather for Vespers. During that service, they kneel for the first time since Pascha. And in that kneeling, the Church teaches them the boldness of prayer, the cry of human hearts for God’s solace and relief. Three lengthy prayers are offered, the third of which completes and fulfills the prayers that began so many weeks before in the Soul Saturdays:

Priest: O Christ our God, the ever-flowing Spring, life-giving, illuminating, creative Power, coeternal with the Father, Who hast most excellently fulfilled the whole dispensation of the salvation of mankind, and didst tear apart the indestructible bonds of death, break asunder the bolts of Hades, and tread down the multitude of evil spirits, offering Thyself as a blameless Sacrifice and offering us Thy pure, spotless and sinless body, Who, by this fearsome, inscrutable divine service didst grant us life everlasting; O Thou Who didst descend into Hades, and demolish the eternal bars, revealing an ascent to those who were in the lower abode; Who with the lure of divine wisdom didst entice the dragon, the head of subtle evil, and with Thy boundless power bound him in abysmal hell, in inextinguishable fire, and extreme darkness. O Wisdom of the Father, Thou great of Name Who dost manifest Thyself a great Helper to those who are in distress; a luminous Light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; Thou art the Lord of everlasting glory, the beloved Son of the Most High Father, eternal Light from eternal Light, Thou Sun of justice! … Who also, on this all-perfect and saving feast, dost deign to receive oblations and supplications for those bound in Hades, and grantest unto us the great hope that rest and comfort will be sent down from Thee to the departed from the grief that binds them. (edited for length)

I can recall the first time in my priesthood that I offered this prayer. I had a copy in front of me, but had not read it before the service, nor had I ever heard it. I trembled as I offered the words above…astounded by their boldness. I had never heard such boldness before the Throne of God within the walls of the Church itself. It is also a reminder of the weakness and infirmity of the legal imagery of salvation. The legal view requires of God that He be the enforcer of Hades. To such a prayer He could only reply: “I cannot grant such things because of my Justice!”
The Descent of Christ into Hades itself demonstrates God’s willingness towards our salvation. And the prayer’s imagery here reveals God’s strength:

Who didst descend into Hades, and demolish the eternal bars, revealing an ascent to those who were in the lower abode; Who with the lure of divine wisdom didst entice the dragon, the head of subtle evil, and with Thy boundless power bound him in abysmal hell, in inextinguishable fire, and extreme darkness.
On the Saturday before Pentecost, some 49 days after Pascha, the Church offers the last in the cycle of Soul Saturdays. And on Pentecost itself, and now on bended knee, it boldly goes where only Christ has gone before in victory. As was proclaimed in the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom:

Christ is risen! And not one of the dead is left in the grave, for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
A beloved friend from my youth who has sustained a boldness in Christ through many trials has said that he doesn’t like to pray “safe” prayers. On this holy day, we leave the safety of our fear and dare to walk where Christ has gone before.
 
http://o-nekros.blogspot.ca/2017/06/

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Christian deeds ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

Fasting, prayer, alms, and every other good Christian deed is good in itself, but the purpose of the Christian life consists not only in the fulfillment of one or another of them. The true purpose of our Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. But fasting, prayer, alms and every good deed done for the sake of Christ is a means to the attainment of the Holy Spirit. Note that only good deeds done for the sake of Christ bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Everything else that is not done for the sake of Christ, even if it is good, does not bring us a reward in the life to come, not does it bring the grace of God in this life. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Whoever gathereth not with me scattereth" (Matt. 12:30). 
 
St. Seraphim of Sarov

Saturday, May 27, 2017

St. John the Russian, the Free & Wonderworker Slave (May 27)




Icon of St. John the Russian, the New Confessor, whose the holy Relics (all the body) are treasured in New Prokopi, Euboia (Euboea), Greece - Commemorated on May 27


 

"The Holy Confessor John the Russian was born in Little Russia around 1690, and was raised in piety and love for the Church of God. Upon attaining the age of maturity he was called to military service, and he served as a simple soldier in the army of Peter I and took part in the Russo-Turkish War. During the Prutsk Campaign of 1711 he and other soldiers were captured by the Tatars, who handed him over to the commander of the Turkish cavalry. He took his Russian captive home with him to Asia Minor, to the village of Prokopion.


The Turks tried to convert the Christian soldiers to the Moslem faith with threats and flattery, but those who resisted were beaten and tortured. Some, alas, denied Christ and became Moslems, hoping to improve their lot. St John was not swayed by the promise of earthly delights, and he bravely endured the humiliation and beatings.



His master tortured him often in the hope that his slave would accept Islam. St John resolutely resisted the will of his master saying, "You cannot turn me from my holy Faith by threats, nor with promises of riches and pleasures. I will obey your orders willingly, if you will leave me free to follow my religion. I would rather surrender my head to you than to change my faith. I was born a Christian, and I shall die a Christian."





St John's bold words and firm faith, as well as his humility and meekness, finally softened the fierce heart of his master. He left John in peace, and no longer tried to make him renounce Christianity. The saint lived in the stable and took care of his master's animals, rejoicing because his bed was a manger such as the one in which the Savior was born.


From morning until late evening the saint served his Turkish master, fulfilling all his commands. He performed his duties in the winter cold and summer heat, half naked and barefoot. Other slaves frequently mocked him, seeing his zeal. St John never became angry with them, but on the contrary, he helped them when he could, and comforted them in their misfortune.


The saint's kindness and gentle nature had its effect on the souls of both the master and the slaves. The Agha and his wife came to love him, and offered him a small room near the hayloft. St John did not accept it, preferring to remain in the stable with the animals. Here he slept on the hay, covered only by an old coat. So the stable became his hermitage, where he prayed and chanted Psalms.


St John brought a blessing to his master simply by living in his household. The cavalry officer became rich, and was soon one of the most powerful men in Prokopion. He knew very well why his home had been blessed, and he did not hesitate to tell others.


Sometimes St John left the stable at night and went to the church of the Great Martyr George, where he kept vigil in the narthex. On Saturdays and Feast days, he received the Holy Mysteries of Christ.


During this time St John continued to serve his master as before, and despite his own poverty, he always helped the needy and the sick, and shared his meager food with them.







One day, the officer left Prokopion and went to Mecca on pilgrimage. A few days later, his wife gave a banquet and invited her husband's friends and relatives, asking them to pray for her husband's safe return. St John served at the table, and he put down a dish of pilaf, his master's favorite food. The hostess said, "How much pleasure your master would have if he could be here to eat this pilaf with us." St John asked for a dish of pilaf, saying that he would send it to his master in Mecca. The guests laughed when they heard his words. The mistress, however, ordered the cook to give him a dish of pilaf, thinking he would eat it himself, or give it to some poor family.


Taking the dish, St John went into the stable and prayed that God would send it to his master. He had no doubt that God would send the pilaf to his master in a supernatual manner. The plate disappeared before his eyes, and he went into the house to tell his mistress that he had sent the pilaf to his master.



The copper plate which St. John miraculously sent to Mecca, still treasured by his church in Evia


After some time, the master returned home with the copper plate which had held the pilaf. He told his household that on a certain day (the very day of the banquet), he returned from the mosque to the home where he was staying. Although the room was locked, he found a plate of steaming pilaf on the table. Unable to explain who had brought the food, or how anyone could enter the locked room, the officer examined the plate. To his amazement, he saw his own name engraved on the copper plate. In spite of his confusion, he ate the meal with great relish.


When the officer's family heard this story, they marveled. His wife told him of how John had asked for a plate of pilaf to send to his master in Mecca, and how they all laughed when John came back and said that it had been sent. Now they saw that what the saint had said was true (Compare the story of Habakkuk, who miraculously brought a dish of pottage to Daniel in the lions' den [Dan. 14:33-39], in the Septuagint).



St. John the Russian receiving Holy Communion hidden in an apple

Toward the end of his difficult life St John fell ill, and sensed the nearness of his end. He summoned the priest so that he could receive Holy Communion. The priest, fearing to go to the residence of the Turkish commander openly with the Holy Gifts, enclosed the life-giving Mysteries in an apple and brought them to St John.


St John glorified the Lord, received the Body and Blood of Christ, and then reposed. The holy Confessor John the Russian went to the Lord Whom he loved on May 27, 1730. When they reported to the master that his servant John had died, he summoned the priests and gave them the body of St John for Christian burial. Almost all the Christian inhabitants of Prokopion came to the funeral, and they accompanied the body of the saint to the Christian cemetery.



Icon of the Dormition of St. John the Russian


Three and a half years later the priest was miraculously informed in a dream that the relics of St John had remained incorrupt. Soon the relics of the saint were transferred to the church of the holy Great Martyr George and placed in a special reliquary. The new saint of God began to be glorified by countless miracles of grace, accounts of which spread to the remote cities and villages. Christian believers from various places came to Prokopion to venerate the holy relics of St John the Russian and they received healing through his prayers. The new saint came to be venerated not only by Orthodox Christians, but also by Armenians, and even Turks, who prayed to the Russian saint, "Servant of God, in your mercy, do not disdain us."






Once, the Turks had sacked the church with St. John's body while it was in in Asia Minor. They then proceeded to throw the Saint's body into the fire to burn it. However, they soon saw the Saint appear as if he were alive and arise and walk amidst the flames; the Turks then fled in fear. This is the reason that the Saint's body is darkened to this day from the smoke of the flames. However, it nonetheless remained utterly incorrupt and wonderworking.




[In 1878, Fr. Andrew, a monk from the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos, made a pilgrimage to Prokopion to pray before the relics of St. John. When he arrived he venerated the Saint with great joy, and remained in the village for some time. On his way to Constantinople he travelled with six coaches of Turkish merchants from Anatolia, also on their way to the capital. As they reached a rutted and desolate part of the road, the monk's coach and one other slowed down to avoid mishap, while the rest went on ahead. Suddenly, a young man on a red horse appeared on a low hill near Fr. Andrew's coach, waving his hand and shouting, "Turn back! Robbers have captured your companions!" As soon as he sounded the warning, he vanished from in front of their eyes.
The two coaches immediately turned back, and although pursued by the robbers, they escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew hastened to the nearest village, where he continued his journey in the company of Turkish soldiers. At a country inn where they spent the night, he met his former merchant-companions, who told him that the thieves had not only taken their money, but even their clothes, and they were amazed that the last two coaches had escaped unharmed. Fr. Andrew related the appearance of the youth, and they all glorified God, understanding that it was the Saint himself who had saved the monk after his pilgrimage to Prokopion.

In the year 1881 a portion of the relics of St John were transferred to the Russian monastery of the holy Great Martyr Panteleimon by the monks of Mount Athos, after they were miraculously saved by the saint during a dangerous journey.



[Another source mentions the that the Saint's "missing" right hand was transferred to the Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos. One pious desire of St. John was to go to the Holy Mountain, but he was unable to do so in life. After his death he appeared to a priest from there, and told him to seek out his right hand, which was separated on its own, and to bring it to Mount Athos. Thus after death, a part of him could reside there.


Construction of a new church was begun in 1886, through the contributions of the monastery and the inhabitants of Prokopion. This was necessary because the church of the holy Great Martyr George, where the relics of St John were enshrined, had fallen into disrepair.


On August 15, 1898 the new church dedicated to St John the Russian was consecrated by the Metropolitan John of Caesarea, with the blessing of the Ecumenical Patriarch Constantine V.


In 1924, an exchange of the populations of Greece and Turkey took place. Many Moslems moved out of Greece, and many Christians moved out of Turkey. The inhabitants of Prokopion, when they moved to the island of Euboia, took with them part of the relics of St John the Russian.


For several decades the relics were in the church of Sts Constantine and Helen at New Prokopion on Euboia, and in 1951 they were transferred into a new church dedicated to St John the Russian. Thousands of pilgrims flocked here from all the corners of Greece, particularly on his Feast, May 27. St John the Russian is widely venerated on Mount Athos, particularly in the Russian monastery of St Panteleimon.


St John's help is sought by travelers, and by those transporting things."

 


Wonderworker
"The Venerable Ivan shows a special love for children through the many miracles bestowed upon them by Christ. With visible intervention, many times he saved children from certain death during earthquakes when roofs fell on to children during school hours at Prokopi and in Athens at the Holy Umercenaries (Aghi Anargyri) some years ago. He also saved countless children from terrible diseases and other calamities.

Even his help and benefaction to adults is not limited! Whole streams of miracles have been bestowed upon them as well! Deaf and dumb are able to hear and speak! Paralysed are able to walk in good health! Blind see again! Cardiopathics return to their former strength! Cancer sufferers are healed! A certain woman from Cyprus bent over due to a spinal problem so that her head reached her knees, like the one in the Gospel, was healed a few years ago immediately she donned the belt of the Saint. This miracle was made known widely by the Press. A non-believer physician (who at one time, with great disrespect, had called the relics of the Saint a "mummy"), was healed from an incurable and terminal illness when the humble Saint appeared to him and said, "I am he whom you called the 'mummy', and I heal you by the Grace of my Lord Jesus Christ"! Demoniacs are freed from the demons that possess them! Saddened people are comforted! Disillusioned people find hope! Weakened people are supported! Disbelievers become believers! Pious people are strengthened in their piety! The name of God is constantly glorified because of the small-framed slave boy from Russia. This was the suffering stable-hand who lived as a slave without slavery, voluntarily poor, unimportant, dressed in ragged clothing, obedient, but firm though in his holy Orthodox Christian Faith, having the "Slava tebie Bozhie" (Glory to you God) constantly coming from his mouth!"




St. John the Russian, with scenes from his life SOME MIRACLES OF SAINT JOHN

The Saint performed many wonders even after his blessed repose. A descendent of the Agha told many of the following miracle: "My children would not live except for a short time, and would die while yet infants. Their unfortunate mother, after she had lost hope in the wisdom of medicine, fled without my knowledge to the relics of the slave John, so that be might grant her a little child which would not die while yet young, so that we also might rejoice to see it as a young man or even a young girl .... In truth the righteous John heard the supplication of my wife. God granted us a strong little boy whom we called, as you know, Kole Guvan Oglu (that is, "Son of the Slave John"), and he lives through the power of God and the prayers of John even until today."

Several times St. John has appeared in dreams and visions warning of impending dangers. Once he warned some Greek school children that the roof was about to fall; they had time enough to jump underneath their desks and when the roof fell, its beams came down upon the desks without striking even one of the children.

More recently we have heard about the miraculous healings of two severe cases of meningitis – one a 19 year old shepherd boy in southern Greece and the other a 3-year old boy in London.

Today a part of the right hand of St. John is enshrined in a special silver reliquary in the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston [Old Calendar, HOCNA], where many people come to venerate it and to ask the prayers of this simple Confessor of the Christian faith, knowing that the Lord – Who resisteth the proud – hears speedily the prayers of the meek."
Many faithful walk 40 kilometers in the grace of the Saint
Holding a bottle of water and a towel to wipe the sweat, hundreds are the faithful who go by foot to Prokopi [Evia] to celebrate St. John the Russian. Here for two days, the center road from Chalkida to Prokopi is filled with the faithful who walk to go to the Righteous Saint. The distance is about 40 kilometers, and many walk this every year. The power of faith is great, as are the miracles of the Saint.



"Elder Iakovos Tsalikis would regularly visit the Shrine of St. John the Russian in Evia.
He said: "Once, I saw the Saint alive inside of his reliquary. I asked him: "My Saint, how did you live in Asia Minor, what virtues and blessings did you have?
The Saint responded to me: "I slept in the cave in which was the stable and covered myself with straw to take cover in the winter so I wouldn't freeze. I had humility and faith."
In a short while he said to me: "Wait, Fr. Iakovos, because now two people have come to pray for a sick child. Wait until I go help him."
Immediately the reliquary appeared empty, because the Saint left. In a short while, he returned, though I didn't see how he did, but I saw him inside his reliquary like a [living] man!"



Apolytikion: 
He that hath called thee from earth unto the heavenly abodes doth even after thy death keep thy body unharmed, O righteous one; for thou wast carried off as a prisoner into Asia wherein also, O John, thou didst win Christ as thy friend. Wherefore do thou beseech him that our souls be saved.

Kontakion: 
The holy memory, O righteous father, of thine illustrious contests hath come today gladdening the souls of those who venerate thee with reverence and faith, O John.




St. John the Russian, the New Confessor 

http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.ca/

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saints Constantine and Helen


Constantine's parents were the Emperor Constantius Chlorus and the Empress Helena. Chlorus had further children by another wife, but by Helena he had only the one, Constantine. Constantine fought two great battles when he came to the throne: one against Maxentius, a tyrant in Rome, and the other against Licinius not far from Byzantium. At the battle against Maxentius, when Constantine was in great anxiety and uncertainty about his chances of success, a shining cross, surrounded by stars, appeared to him in the sky in full daylight. On the cross were written the words: 'In this sign, conquer!' The wondering Emperor ordered that a great cross be put together, like the one that had appeared, and be carried before the army. By the power of the Cross, he gained a glorious victory over enemies greatly superior in number. Maxentius drowned himself in the Tiber. Immediately after this, Constantine issued the famous Edict of Milan, in 313, to put an end to the persecution of Christians. Conquering Byzantium, he built a beautiful capital city on the Bosphorus, which from that time was named Constantinople.

At this time, Constantine fell ill with leprosy. The pagan priests and doctors advised him to bathe in the blood of slaughtered children, which he refused to do. Then the Apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him and told him to seek out a bishop, Sylvester, who would heal him of the disease. The bishop instructed him in the Christian faith and baptized him, and the leprosy vanished from the Emperor's body.

When there was discord in the Church about the troublesome heretic Arius, the Emperor summoned the first Ecumenical Council in Nicaea, in 325, where the heresy was condemned and Orthodoxy confirmed.

St. Helena, the Emperor's devout mother, was very zealous for the Christian faith. She visited Jerusalem and found the Precious Cross of the Lord, and built the Church of the Resurrection over Golgotha and many other churches in the Holy Land. This holy woman went to the Lord in 327, at the age of eighty. The Emperor Constantine outlived his mother by ten years and entered into rest at the age of about sixty in 337, in the city of Nicomedia. His body was buried in the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.



Troparion Tone 8

O Lord, thy disciple Emperor Constantine, who saw in the sky the Sign of Thy Cross,/ Accepted the call that came straight from Thee, as it happened to Paul, and not from any man./ He built his capital and entrusted it to Thy care./ Preserve our country in everlasting peace, through the intercession of the Mother of God,/ for Thou art the Lover of mankind.



Kontakion Tone 3

Today Constantine and Helena his mother expose to our veneration the Cross,/ the awesome Cross of Christ,/ a sign of salvation to the Jews/ and a standard of victory:/ a great symbol of conquest and triumph.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Confess everything to your spiritual father ( St. Silouan the Athonite )

 If a man does not tell everything to his spiritual father, then his path is crooked and does not lead to the Kingdom of Heaven.
 But the path of one who tells everything leads directly to the Kingdom of Heaven. 
 
St. Silouan the Athonite

Monday, May 8, 2017

Many think that the Saints are far from us. ( St. Silouan the Athonite )

Many think that the saints are far from us. But they are far from those who distance themselves from them, and very close to those keep the commandments of Christ and have the grace of the Holy Spirit.
 In the heavens, all things are moved by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is on earth too. He lives in our Church. He lives in the Mysteries. He is in the Holy Scriptures. He is in the souls of the faithful. The Holy Spirit unites all things, and therefore the saints are close to us. And when we pray to them, then the Holy Spirit hears our prayers, and our souls feel that they are praying for us.

St. Silouan the Athonite

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. ( St. Nektarios of Aegina )



How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end! In the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. 
Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: "I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people." (II Cor. 6:16) What can be lacking to them? Nothing, nothing at all! For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself! 
 
St. Nektarios of Aegina

Friday, April 28, 2017

There will come a time when corruption and lewdness among the youth will reach the utmost point... ( St. Seraphim of Viritsa )

There will come a time when corruption and lewdness among the youth will reach the utmost point. There will hardly be any virgin youth left. They will see their lack of punishment and will think that everything is allowable for them to satisfy their desires. God will call them, however, and they will realize that it will not be possible for them to continue such a life. Then in various ways they will be led to God… That time will be beautiful. That today they are sinning greatly, will lead them to a deeper repentance. Just like the candle before it goes out, it shines strongly and throws sparks; with its light, it enlightens the surrounding darkness; thus, it will be the Church’s life in the last age. And that time is near.

St. Seraphim of Viritsa

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Στα έσχατα χρόνια το κακό και η αίρεση... ( Αγιος Ιωάννης Ο Μαξίμοβιτς )


Στα έσχατα χρόνια το κακό και η αίρεση θα έχει τόσο εξαπλωθεί που οι πιστοί δεν θα βρίσκουν Ιερέα και Ποιμένα να τους Προστατέψει απο την Πλάνη και να τους Συμβουλέψει στη Σωτηρία. 
Τότε οι Πιστοί, δεν θα μπορούν να δεχτούν Ασφαλείς οδηγίες απο ανθρώπους άλλα Οδηγός τους θα είναι τα κείμενα των Αγίων Πατέρων. Ιδίως σε αυτήν την εποχή ο κάθε Πιστός θα είναι Υπεύθυνος για όλο το πλήρωμα της Έκκλησίας.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ο άθεος και η γριούλα ( Γεροντικό )

Στις δώδεκα τα μεσάνυκτα χτύπησαν την πόρτα. Ήταν μια γριούλα και ζητούσε να πάει να κοινωνήσει έναν άρρωστο. Ό Ιερέας ετοιμάστηκε και βγήκε αμέσως μαζί της. Πλησιάζουν σε ένα φτωχό σπιτάκι, τύπου παράγκας. Ή γριούλα ανοίγει την πόρτα και μπάζει τον Ιερέα σε ένα δωμάτιο. Και να, ξαφνικά ό παπάς ευρίσκεται εκεί μόνος με τον άρρωστο. Ό άρρωστος του δείχνει με χειρονομίες την πόρτα και σκούζει. Φύγε από εδώ! Ποιός σε κάλεσε; Εγώ είμαι άθεος. Και άθεος θα πεθάνω.
Ό παπάς τα έχασε. Μά δεν ήλθα από μόνος μου! με κάλεσε ή γριά! Ποιά γριά; 'Εγώ δεν ξέρω καμιά γριά!

Ό παπάς, καθώς στέκει απέναντί του, βλέπει επάνω από το κεφάλι του άρρωστου, μια φωτογραφία με την γυναίκα που τον κάλεσε.

Του λέει, ενώ του δείχνει το πορτραίτο. Να αυτή! Ποιά αυτή; Ξέρεις, τί λες, παπά; Αυτή είναι ή μάνα μου. Και έχει πεθάνει χρόνια τώρα! Για μια στιγμή πάγωσαν και οι δύο. Αισθάνθηκαν δέος. Ό άρρωστος άρχισε να κλαίει. Και αφού έκλαψε, ζήτησε να εξομολογηθεί. Και μετά, κοινώνησε. Ή μητέρα του είχε φροντίσει από τον ουρανό, να του δείξει το δρόμο της σωτηρίας.
 
Από το Γεροντικό 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Τό χτύπημα τῆς πόρτας ( ΔΙΔΑΚΤΙΚΕΣ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΕΣ )


 Μια σκοτεινή νύχτα, έπιασε μια καταιγίδα κάποιον στον δρόμο.Χτυπάει την πρώτη πόρτα που συναντά.
- Ανοίξτε μου σας παρακαλώ να γλυτώσω από τούτο το κακό.
- Α, δεν μπορώ, λέει μια αυστηρή φωνή από μέσα, εγώ είμαι η «Δικαιοσύνη». Είσαι άξιος της τιμωρίας αυτής. Δικαίως έρχεται στο κεφάλι σου. Εγώ την έστειλα!
Χτυπάει κι άλλη πόρτα παρακεί…


- Άνοιξε μου, λέει, να προφυλαχτώ.
- Εδώ μένει η «Αλήθεια», λέει μια φωνή από μέσα! Ποτέ δεν σου άρεσε η συντροφιά μου. Πώς με θυμήθηκες τώρα;

Κι ο ταλαίπωρος άνθρωπος προχώρησε απελπισμένος.
Χτυπάει τρίτη πόρτα τώρα.
- Άνοιξε μου σε παρακαλώ. Ποιος κάθεται εδώ;
- Το «Έλεος», απαντά μια πρόθυμη φωνή από μέσα και την ίδια στιγμή η πόρτα ανοίγει. Πέρασε μέσα φίλε μου, του λέει, τόσο καιρό σε περίμενα! Φόρεσε αυτά τα καθαρά, καινούργια ρούχα, για σένα τα έχω, ξεκουράσου τώρα!
ΑΥΤΗ ΕΙΝΑΙ Η ΥΠΟΔΟΧΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ ΣΤΟ ΚΑΘΕ ΜΕΤΑΝΟΗΜΕΝΟ ΠΑΙΔΙ ΤΟΥ!!!
Αλήθεια όμως, εμείς έχουμε μετάνοια, ταπείνωση, εξομολογούμαστε τα λάθη μας, πλησιάζουμε την Θεία Κοινωνία, τον ίδιο τον Θεό για να ζητήσουμε συγχώρεση και προστασία και να ξεκουραστούμε κοντά Του, στην στοργική αγκαλιά Του;
ΠΟΘΟΥΜΕ ΝΑ ΜΠΟΥΜΕ ΣΤΗΝ ΕΥΣΠΛΑΧΝΙΚΗ ΚΑΡΔΙΑ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ, ΝΑ ΓΙΝΟΥΜΕ ΕΝΑ ΜΑΖΙ ΤΟΥ;
Ας ρωτήσουμε τους εαυτούς μας. Εκείνος μας περιμένει…

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ὁ Θεὸς εἶναι φῶς, καὶ δίνει τὴ λαμπρότητά Του σ΄ ἐκείνους πού καθαρίζουν τὴ σβησμένη λαμπάδα τῆς ψυχῆς τους ( Ἁγίου Συμεών τοῦ Νέου Θεολόγου )

 
Ὁ Θεὸς εἶναι φῶς, καὶ δίνει τὴ λαμπρότητά Του σ΄ ἐκείνους πού καθαρίζουν τὴ σβησμένη λαμπάδα τῆς ψυχῆς τους κι’ ἑνώνονται μὲ τὸ «Θεῖον πῦρ».

Θαῦμα παράδοξο! Ὁ ἄνθρωπος νὰ ἑνώνεται μὲ τὸν Θεό ὄχι μόνο πνευματικά, ἀλλά καὶ σωματικά. Ἄνθρωπος καὶ Θεὸς νὰ γίνονται ἕνα, ὅπως ἕνα εἶναι καὶ τὸ ζωντανὸ ἀνθρώπινο σῶμα μὲ τὴν ψυχή. Μὲ τὴν ἕνωση αὐτή ὁ ἄνθρωπος γίνεται «κατὰ χάριν Θεός», ὅπως λέει ὁ ψαλμωδὸς Δαβίδ: «Ἐγώ εἶπα, θεοὶ ἐστε καὶ υἱοί Ὑψίστου πάντες».

Ὁ Χριστὸς βεβαίωσε: «Ὁ μένων ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷ, οὗτος φέρει καρπὸν πολύν. Ἐὰν μή τις μείνῃ ἐν ἐμοί, ἐβλήθη ἔξω ὡς τὸ κλῆμα καὶ ἐξηράνθη, καὶ συνάγουσιν αὐτὸν καὶ εἰς τὸ πῦρ βάλλουσι. Μείνατε ἐν ἐμοί, κἀγὼ ἐν ὑμῖν». Πῶς ὅμως μένουμε ἐμεῖς στὸν Χριστὸ κι’ Αὐτός σέ μᾶς; Τὴν ἀπάντηση μᾶς τὴν ἔδωσε ὁ Ἴδιος, ὅταν, λίγο πρὶν ἀπὸ τὸ πάθος Του, προσευχήθηκε στὸν Πατέρα: «Σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοί κἀγώ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοί ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν…κἀγώ τὴν δόξαν ἥν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς ἓν ἐσμέν, ἐγώ ἐν αὐτοῖς καί σύ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν…». Ἀλλά καί στούς μαθητές Του μέ σαφήνεια εἶπε: «Πιστεύετέ μοι ὅτι ἐγώ ἐν τῷ πατρί καί ὁ πατήρ ἐν ἐμοί … ἐγώ ἐν τῷ πατρί μου καί ὑμεῖς ἐν ἐμοί κἀγώ ἐν ὑμῖν». Ἐναργέστατα εἶναι τὰ θεϊκὰ κι’ ἀλάθητα λόγια τοῦ Κυρίου.

Ὅπως ὁ Πατέρας εἶναι ἑνωμένος μὲ τὸν Υἱό Του, ἔτσι κι’ ἐμεῖς εἴμαστε ἑνωμένοι μὲ τὸν Θεό. Καὶ ὅπως ὁ Πατέρας μένει «κατὰ φύσιν ἐν τῷ Υἱῷ», ἔτσι καὶ ὅσοι πίστεψαν στὸν Χριστὸ καὶ ἀναγεννήθηκαν «διὰ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου», μένουν «κατὰ χάριν ἐν τῷ Θεῷ» καὶ ὁ Θεὸς μένει σ’ αὐτούς ὡς «κατὰ χάριν υἱούς» Του. Τί θαυμαστή, θεανθρώπινη ἕνωση! Ἡ ἕνωση ὅμως Πατέρα καὶ Υἱοῦ δὲν εἶναι παρὰ ἕνωση ἄπειρης καὶ ἄφατης ἀγάπης. Καὶ ἡ ἀγαπη τοῦ Υἱοῦ πρός τόν Πατέρα φανερώνεται μὲ τὴν «ἐν ἄκρᾳ ταπεινώσῃ» ἄρνηση τοῦ θελήματός Του καὶ τὴν ἐκπλήρωση τοῦ θελήματος τοῦ πατρός. Αὐτό ἀκριβῶς χαρακτηρίζει πρωταρχικὰ τὴν Θεία Ἕνωση. Αὐτό ὅμως πρέπει νὰ χαρακτηρίζει καὶ τὴ δική μας ἀγαπητική ἕνωση μὲ τὸν Χριστό, γιὰ νὰ εἶναι γνήσια: ἡ ταπεινή ἐκπλήρωση τοῦ ἁγίου θελήματός Του, δηλαδή ἡ τήρηση τῶν ἐντολῶν Του. Τό εἶπε ὁ ἴδιος: «Ἐάν ἀγαπᾶτε με, τά ἐντολάς τάς ἐμάς τηρήσατε… Ὁ ἔχων τάς ἐντολάς μου καί τηρῶν αὐτάς, ἐκεῖνος ἐστὶν ὁ ἀγαπῶν με… Ἐάν τις ἀγαπᾶ με, τόν λόγον μου τηρήσει, καί ὁ Πατήρ μου ἀγαπήσῃ αὐτόν, καί πρός αὐτόν ἐλευσόμεθα καί μονήν παρ’ αὐτῷ ποιήσωμεν». Ὁ Θεός ἔρχεται καί «ποιεῖ μονήν παρ’ ἡμῖν», -μέ ἄλλα λόγια: ἑνώνεται μαζί μας- μόνον ἄν Τόν ἀγαπᾶμε ἔμπρακτα, τηρώντας τό νόμο Του. Τότε ζοῦμε τήν παρουσία Του μέσα μας. Τότε πραγματοποιεῖται ὁ λόγος Του: «Ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐντός ὑμῶν ἐστι». Τότε προγευόμαστε τή μυστική καί ἀπερίγραπτη γλυκύτητα τῆς βασιλείας Του, τήν ἄρρητη ἀπό τό φθαρτό σῶμα. Γιατί, ὅπως βεβαιώνει ὁ ἴδιος, «οὐ πᾶς ὁ λέγων μοι ‘Κύριε, Κύριε’ εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τήν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἀλλ’ ὁ ποιῶν τό θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς». Μέ ὅλα ὅσα εἴπαμε ὡς τώρα, δείξαμε τόν ἕνα τρόπο ἑνώσεώς μας μέ τόν Θεό: τήν τήρηση τῶν ἐντολῶν Του. Ὑπάρχει ὅμως καί ἄλλος, παράλληλος, πού συμπληρώνει καί ἐνισχύει τόν πρῶτο. Αὐτός εἶναι ἡ συχνή συμμετοχή μας στό μυστικό δεῖπνο Του, ἡ μετάληψη τῶν ἀχράντων μυστηρίων Του. Ὁ Ἴδιος ὁ Χριστός πάλι εἶπε: «Ὁ τρώγων μου τήν σάρκα καί πίνων μου τό αἷμα, ἐν ἐμοί μένει κἀγώ ἐν αὐτῷ… Ἐγώ εἰμί ὁ ἄρτος ὁ ζῶν ὁ ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς, ἐάν τις φάγῃ ἐκ τούτου τοῦ ἄρτου, ζήσει εἰς τόν αἰώνα… Ὁ τρώγων μου τήν σάρκα καί πίνων μου τό αἷμα ἔχει ζωήν αἰώνιον, κἀγώ ἀναστήσω αὐτόν ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρα». Γιά νά εἴμαστε λοιπόν ἑνωμένοι μέ τόν Κύριο καί νά ἔχουμε ζωή αἰώνια, πρέπει νά κοινωνοῦμε συχνά τό Σῶμα καί τό Αἷμα Ἐκείνου, πού εἶναι ἡ Πηγή τῆς ζωῆς. Ἀλλιῶς, ὄχι μόνον εἴμαστε χωρισμένοι ἀπ’ Αὐτόν, ἀλλά καί νεκροί: «Ἀμήν ἀμήν λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐάν μή φάγητε τήν σάρκα τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί πίητε Αὐτοῦ τό αἷμα, οὐκ ἔχετε ζωήν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς». Ἄς προσέξουμε ὅμως, νά μήν κοινωνοῦμε χωρίς βαθειά μετάνοια, συντριβή καρδιᾶς, καθαρή ζωή καί πνευματική προετοιμασία, γιατί τότε ἡ Θεία Κοινωνία ὄχι μόνο δέν συντελεῖ στήν ἕνωσή μας μέ τόν Χριστό, ἀλλά, ἀντίθετα, μᾶς καταδικάζει καί μᾶς κατακαίει. «Ὁ γάρ ἐσθίων καί πίνων ἀναξίως», λέγει ὁ ἀπόστολος Παῦλος, «κρίμα ἑαυτῷ ἐσθίει καί πίνει». Γι’ αὐτό «δοκιμαζέτω ἄνθρωπος ἑαυτόν, καί οὕτως ἐκ τοῦ ἄρτου ἐσθιέτω καί ἐκ τοῦ ποτηρίου πινέτω». Ἂς φυλάξουμε λοιπὸν μὲ προθυμία καὶ ἐπιμέλεια τὶς ἐντολές τοῦ Χριστοῦ, καί ἄς προσερχόμαστε μέ συναίσθηση καί ἀκατάκριτη συνείδηση στά πανάγια μυστήριά Του, γιά νά ἑνωθοῦμε μαζί Του· γιά νά κληρονομήσουμε τήν αἰώνια βασιλεία Του· γιά νά μήν ὑποστοῦμε στήν παρούσα ζωή ὅ,τι λέει ὁ Τίμιος Πρόδρομος: «Ὁ ἀπειθών τῷ Υἱῷ οὐκ ὄψεται ζωήν, ἀλλ’ ἡ ὀργή τοῦ Θεοῦ μένει ἐπ’ αὐτόν». Γιά νά μήν ἀκούσουμε στήν ἄλλη ζωή τόν φοβερό λόγο τοῦ Κυρίου: «Ἀπέλθετε ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ… Οὐκ οἷδα ὑμᾶς!…». Γιά νά δεχθοῦμε, τέλος, τήν πανευφρόσυνη πρόσκληση: «Δεῦτε οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ Πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τήν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπό καταβολῆς κόσμου».

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Θαύμα της Αγίας Παρασκευής

Ήμουν στον 7ο μήνα κύησης
όταν άρχισε να δακρύζει διαρκώς το δεξί μου μάτι. Ήταν πολύ ενοχλητικό και μου προκαλούσε ζάλη και εκνευρισμό η θολή όραση. Χειρούργος οφθαλμίατρος μου είπε πως είναι ήπιο σύμπτωμα μιας πάθησης επικίνδυνης, με θεραπεία δύσκολη συνήθως χειρουργική. Απόφραξη δακρυϊκού σωλήνα. Προσπάθησε να κάνει διάνοιξη με καθετηριασμό έτσι ώστε να αποφύγω το χειρουργείο. Το αποτέλεσμα ήταν αρνητικό.
Μου είπε να κάνω υπομονή να βάζω τοπική αντιβίωση και ότι πρέπει να χειρουργηθώ πριν πρηστεί και προχωρήσει η ζημιά. Οφθαλμίατρος δεύτερος με συμβούλεψε και αυτός ότι πρέπει να κάνω χειρουργείο οπωσδήποτε. Έτσι πηγα σε μεγάλη κλινική, να με δει ένας κορυφαίος χειρουργός που έχει κάνει εξειδίκευση σε θέματα δακρυϊκού σωλήνα. Μετά από ενδελεχή έλεγχο μου είπε πως πρέπει να χειρουργηθώ γιατί αν δεν το κάνω είναι θέμα χρόνου η μόλυνση, πράγμα επικίνδυνο μιας και είναι κοντά στον εγκέφαλο. Συγκεκριμένα μου είπε πως είναι τσιμεντωμένο και δεν ανοίγει.
Στο χειρουργείο θα έκανε παράκαμψη με ένα σωληνάκι απ” το δακρυϊκό πόρο ως τη μύτη και αυτό φυσικά σε συνεργασία με χειρούργο Ω.Ρ.Λ. Είναι κάτι που δεν μπορείς να αποφύγεις μιας και δεν υπάρχει άλλη μόνιμη θεραπεία. Επίσης αν μου πρηστεί το μάτι έστω και λίγο θα πάρω αμέσως τηλέφωνο για να μου δώσει βαρειά αντιβίωση γιατί όπως είπαμε είναι πολύ επικίνδυνο. Άρχισα να ψάχνω και μέσω γνωστού έρχομαι σε επαφή με μια κυρία που είχε περάσει το ίδιο το 2008 κάνοντας χειρουργείο στον Ευαγγελισμό και στα δυο μάτια. Μου είπε και κείνη ακριβώς ότι και οι προηγούμενοι γιατροί. Εκείνης μάλιστα κινδύνεψε η ζωή της και ταλαιπωρήθηκε με επαναλαμβανόμενα χειρουργεία για ένα χρόνο.
Ήταν Παρασκευή βράδυ (19-4-2013) όταν μου είπε «σε παρακαλώ για να μην περάσεις όσα πέρασα και κινδυνέψεις, μόλις σου πρηστεί έστω και λίγο φύγε για εφημερεύων νοσοκομείο. Της απάντησα πως απόψε έχει ήδη ξεκινήσει να πρήζεται, πως φοβάμαι και δεν ξέρω τι να κάνω. Δεν ήθελα να πάρω
ούτε βαρειά αντιβίωση ούτε χειρουργείο με γενική αναισθησία να κάνω, μιας και πια είχα γεννήσει και θήλαζα το μικρό μου αγοράκι. Το πρόβλημα όμως ήταν πολύ έντονο. Είχα ήδη 4 μήνες δακρύρροια, μου προκαλούσε ζαλάδα, θολή όραση και δυσκολευόμουν να φροντίσω το παιδί μου. Επίσης όταν το θήλαζα σκουπιζόμουν με χαρτί συνέχεια για να μην πέφτει πάνω στο μικρό.
Την άλλη μέρα Σάββατο (20-4-2013) ένιωθα πολύ χάλια. Το μάτι ήταν κόκκινο, γεμάτο τσίμπλες, είχε πρηστεί, είχε βαρύνει, δάκρυζε ασταμάτητα, έκαιγε και η όρασή μου ήταν ακόμη πιο θολή. Εκεί η υπομονή μου εξαντλήθηκε. Αρχισα να κλαίω και να λέω ότι ούτε το παιδί μου έχω καταφέρει να δω όπως είναι. Όλα τα βλέπω θολά και με ζαλίζουν τόσο καιρό. Τι θα κάνω…???
Ναι. Ξέρω ότι πρέπει να κάνω εγχείρηση, αλλά αυτό σημαίνει διακοπή θηλασμού, αφού θα κάνω ολική νάρκωση. Μου είπε τότε ο σύζυγός μου πως έχει κάνει τάμα στην Αγία Παρασκευή, να γίνω καλά χωρίς χειρουργείο και να προσευχηθώ κι εγώ.
Μπήκα στο ίντερνετ και διάβασα το βίο Της. Την παρακάλεσα κι ακούμπησα το μάτι μου πάνω στην εικόνα που υπήρχε στο ίντερνετ (στο σπίτι δεν είχαμε εικόνα Της).
Αμέσως ένιωσα δροσιά εκεί που έκαιγε το μάτι μου. Δεν ήθελα να πάρω το μάτι μου από την εικόνα της. Τέτοια ανακούφιση. Βέβαια σκέφτηκα πως είναι η ιδέα μου… Μετά από λίγη ώρα, παίρνω να θηλάσω το παιδί, κάτι που με στεναχωρούσε, καθώς όταν έσκυβα να το κοιτάξω, έτρεχε ποτάμι το δάκρυ μου πάνω του. Ο σύζυγός μου απέναντι μου συζητούσε για έναν τέταρτο χειρουργό οφθαλμίατρο, που θα πηγαίναμε μες τη βδομάδα και πως μπορεί να μη χρειαστεί γιατί η Αγία Παρασκευή θα κάνει το θαύμα! Σκέφτηκα μακάρι. Ξαφνικά (εκείνη τη στιγμή) με πιάνει μια έντονη καταρροή απο τη μύτη. Νόμισα πως κόλλησα ίωση και είπα ωχ Χριστέ μου μόνο αυτό μου έλειπε τώρα. Ακολούθησε ένα έντονο φτέρνισμα και ξάφνικά νιώθω ότι πνίγομαι από κάτι πίσω στο λαιμό μου. Στην προσπάθειά μου να ελευθερωθώ κάνω ένα χαα και πετάγεται από το στόμα μου ένα κομμάτι συμπαγές μήκους 5 εκατοστών, πλάτους 4 χιλιοστών (μέτρηση από ειδικό χάρακα χειρουργού που το είδε μετά) σαν σκουλήκι, που είχε το σχήμα του δακρυϊκού σωλήνα όπως είναι στις φωτογραφίες των βιβλίων που είχα διαβάσει σχετικά το τελευταίο διάστημα.
Τρομάξαμε και οι δυο και καταλάβαμε πως κάτι παράξενο έγινε. Εκείνη την ώρα ένιωσα έντονη δροσιά στο μάτι μου. Σταμάτησε να δακρύζει. Ξεπρήστηκε, έφυγε το βάρος, η θολή όραση, η ζάλη και η κολλώδης ουσία που σχημάτιζε τσίμπλες. Ναι. Καταλάβαμε τι έγινε και γονατίσαμε στη χάρη της Αγίας Παρασκευής (κάτι που νιώσαμε και κάναμε και οι δύο πρώτη φορά).
Έχουν περάσει τόσες μέρες και το μάτι μου είναι σαν να μην είχε ποτέ τίποτα. Κάθε πρωί που ξυπνάω σαστίζω συνειδητοποιώντας αυτό που έγινε. Οι γιατροί που επικοινώνησα μαζί τους ενθουσιάστηκαν. Με ρώτησαν τι έκανα πριν και πως αυτό δεν έχει ξαναγίνει στην καριέρα τους και ούτε υπάρχει στη βιβλιογραφία. Μάλιστα μου ζήτησαν να το φωτογραφίσουν και να πάρουν δείγμα μιας και δεν ξέρουν τη σύστασή του, για να το παρουσιάσουν σε οφθαλμολογικά συνέδρια! Είναι κανονικό εκμαγείο δακρυϊκού σωλήνα όπως είπαν. Με ευχαρίστησαν κιόλας γιατί αυτό όπως είπαν έχει επιστημονικό ενδιαφέρον. Επίσης παραδέχτηκαν πως έχω ιαθεί πλήρως! Πως αυτό δεν έχει ξαναγίνει και όταν τους είπα για την Αγία Παρασκευή, είπαν τι να πούμε συμβαίνουν κι αυτά. Εδώ η επιστήμη σηκώνει τα χέρια ψηλά και έκαναν το σταυρό τους. Ευχαριστώ την Αγία Παρασκευή που με βοήθησε είναι πραγματικά δίπλα μας, μας ακούει τόσο τόσο εύκολα κι απλά.
(Όλο αυτό που μου συνέβη ξέρω πως πρέπει να το μοιραστώ. Έγινε για κάποιο λόγο. Δεν είμαι η εκλεκτή του Θεού. Δεν γνωρίζω πολλά για πολλούς Αγίους όπως δεν ήξερα και για την Αγία Παρασκευή και λυπάμαι γι αυτό). Τώρα έμαθα. Μας ακούν και μας αγαπούν.
ΣΤΑΥΡΟΥΛΑ ΖΑΧΑΡΙΑ ΕΤΩΝ 38
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