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Let us prepare the soil of our heart with the plough of repentance… Father Zacharias (Zacharou)

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня__33315831_p18kgq513t1riv1unl14tb1rh41a1ga

Saint Mary of Egypt

Commemorated on April 1 and the fifth Sunday in Great Lent.

Father Zacharias (Zacharou)

As for repentance, this all-embracing practice builds and keeps the heart more than any other undertaking. Repentance has a wondrous and holy purpose. The person who repents bears witness to the living God of our Fathers as a God Who is righteous and true in all His desires, all His ways and judgments. But repentance also acknow­ledges the fact that man is a liar,[38] deluded by sin, and there­fore deprived of the honour and glory which God gave him in the beginning. And this is where the person who would repent must begin: he confesses his sinfulness, taking his sin upon himself in humility and self-condem­nation. There is no trace of audacity in his con­version, and he becomes true and attracts the Spirit of Truth, Who cleanses him from sin and justifies him. As St Silouan used to say, the Holy Spirit bears witness in his heart to his salvation. But the Lord too is justified, for He is true Who confirms the words of His Prophet: ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’ For when man comes to himself and freely says from his heart, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son’, the voice of heavenly goodness then sounds in his soul: ‘All that I have is thine.’

In the early stages of repentance, the believer carries the small cross that God’s Providence, in His discernment and love for mankind, has foreseen in the life of each one of us. Our personal cross is shaped according to our spe­cific need to be liberated from every form of passionate attachment, and unless we carry it we will never be able to love God our Creator and Benefactor with a free heart and run His course faithfully and steadily. In other words, we take up our cross in response to the commandment to repent, and it becomes the key to our entry into the great and eter­nal inheritance, which Christ gained for us through His Cross and Resurrection.

Μαρία Αιγυπτία_Saint Mary of Egypt Icon _святая Мария Египтяныня__333-Egipteanca-Parintele-ZosimaIf we prepare the soil of our heart with the plough of repentance and continually irrigate it with the living water of grace, a time will come when ‘the day will dawn, and the day star will arise in our hearts’. At some point, the energy of the Spirit of Truth, which will have accumu­lated in the heart, will open and enlarge the heart infinitely, and it will embrace heaven and earth, and all that exists….The peace of Christ, the Prince of Peace will reign in his heart, and his every word will echo the treasure of perfection which he contains within himself. He will offer whatsoever overflows from the good treasure of his heart out of love for his fellows, and his enlarged heart will not exclude anyone. His spirit will scale eternal heights and survey the depths of the judgments of God’s compassion. He will offer up his prayer, bringing every soul before the Lord, and praying that God may fill the heart of each with the in­corruptible consolation of His Spirit.

Source: Archimandrite Zacharias (Zacharou), The hidden man of the heart, edition Stavropegic Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex 2007.

Troparion St Mary of Egypt— Tone 8

In thee, O Mother, was exactly preserved what was according to the divine image. for thou didst take the cross and follow Christ, and by thy life, didst teach us to ignore the flesh, since it is transitory, but to care for the soul as an immortal thing. Therefore, thy spirit, Saint Mary, rejoices with the Angels.

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Οι πειρασμοί είναι δείγμα του θείου ελέους.Γι’ αυτό εμπιστεύσου στο Θεό … Άγιος Νεκτάριος Αιγίνης, ο θαυματουργός.

Άγιος Νεκτάριος Αιγίνης, ο θαυματουργός.

χριστος επιτιμων την θαλασσ.-380052_327644807246376_724812500_n (1)Οι πειρασμοί παραχωρούνται για να φανερωθούν τα κρυμμένα πάθη, να καταπολεμηθούν κι έτσι να θεραπευθεί η ψυχή. Είναι και αυτοί δείγμα του θείου ελέους. Γι’ αυτό εμπιστεύσου στο Θεό και ζήτησε τη βοήθειά Του, ώστε να σε δυναμώσει στον αγώνα σου.

Η ελπίδα στο Θεό δεν οδηγεί ποτέ στην απελπισία. Οι πειρασμοί φέρνουν ταπεινοφροσύνη. Ο Θεός ξέρει την αντοχή του καθενός μας και παραχωρεί τους πειρασμούς κατά το μέτρο των δυνάμεών μας. Να φροντίζουμε όμως κι εμείς να είμαστε άγρυπνοι και προσεκτικοί, για να μη βάλουμε μόνοι μας τον εαυτό μας σε πειρασμό.
Εμπιστευθείτε στο Θεό τον Αγαθό, τον Ισχυρό, τον Ζώντα, και Αυτός θα σας οδηγήσει στην ανάπαυση. Μετά από τις δοκιμασίες ακολουθεί η πνευματική χαρά. Ο Κύριος παρακολουθεί όσους υπομένουν τις δοκιμασίες και τις θλίψεις για τη δική Του αγάπη. Μη λιποψυχείτε λοιπόν και μη δειλιάζετε.

Φροντίζετε να περιφρουρείτε στην καρδιά σας τη χαρά του Αγίου Πνεύματος και να μην επιτρέπετε στον πονηρό να χύνει την πίκρα του. Προσέχετε! Προσέχετε, μήπως ο Παράδεισος που υπάρχει μέσα σας μετατραπεί σε κόλαση.

Platyterra (1)

Κύριε, στις δύσκολες στιγμές μη μ΄ αφήνεις.
Παρουσιάσου.
Έλα στο πλάϊ μου…
Μίλησέ μου μυστικά, όπως Σύ γνωρίζεις.

Εσύ γνωρίζεις το καλύτερο για τον καθένα μας.
Δώσε τις λύσεις Κύριε
Φώτισέ μας στις ορθές αποφάσεις…
Το έλεος Σου ας με καταδιώξει.

Ιησού μου, σε ικετεύω: έλα και κάνε ένα περίπατο μέσα στην ταραγμένη θάλασσα της καρδιάς μου.
Πές και πάλι ένα “πεφίμωσο”. Αμήν.

Πορεύου , Κύριε μαζί μου κάθε στιγμή ! 

Απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο, “Ξεσπάσματα της καρδιάς μου”,
+ Μητροπολίτης Νικόλαος Σελέντης


Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep… St Isaac the Syrian

Ισαάκ Σύρος_ St. Isaac of Syria_ Св. Исаак Сирин_DSC_7570ΦΥΣ

Words of Eternal Life by Our God-bearing Father, St Isaac the Syrian

Justice does not belong to the Christian way of life and there is no mention of it in Christ’s teaching.
Let yourself be persecuted, but do not persecute others.
Be crucified, but do not crucify others.
Be slandered, but do not slander others.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep: such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.

Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone.
Be a partaker of the sufferings of all, but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even those who live very wickedly.

Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept punishment in their place, do not destroy their character.

Humility is the raiment of the Godhead. The Word Who became man clothed Himself in it, and therewith He spoke to us in our body. Every man who has been clothed with it has truly been made like unto Him…
As a handful of sand thrown into the great sea, so are the sins of all flesh in comparison with the mercy of God.

Here is a lovely passage from The Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian

Acheiropoietos (1)

Lord Christ our God, Who hast healed my passions through Thy Passion, and hast cured my wounds through Thy wounds, grant me who have sinned greatly against Thee tears of compunction. Transform my body with the fragrance of Thy life-giving Body, and sweeten my soul with Thy Holy Blood from the bitterness with which the foe has fed me.

Lift up my downward looking mind to Thee, and take it out of the pit of perdition, for I have no repentance, I have no compunction, I have no consoling tears, which uplift children to their heritage. My mind has been darkened through earthly passions, I cannot look up to Thee in pain. I cannot warm myself with tears of love for Thee.

But, O Lord Jesus Christ, Treasury of good gifts, give me thorough repentance and a diligent heart to seek Thee; grant me Thy grace, and renew in me the lineaments of Thy image. I have forsaken Thee – do not forsake me! Come out to seek me; lead me up to Thy pasturage and number me among the lambs of Thy chosen flock. Nourish me with them on the grass of Thy Holy Mysteries, by the prayers of Thy Most Pure Mother and all Thy saints. Amen.

Through the prayers of St Isaac the Syrian, of all the ascetic Fathers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and hope, have mercy on us and save us!


Οι θείες δυνάμεις είναι παντοδύναμες ,Άγιος Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης

έφιππη πορεία του Τιμίου Σταυρού_ Cavalcada Sfintei Cruci_cavalcada_sfintei_cruci

Οι θείες δυνάμεις είναι παντοδύναμες
Άγιος Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης

Η βοήθεια του θεού δεν εμποδίζεται ούτε από ανθρώπους ούτε από δαίμονες. Δεν είναι τίποτε δύσκολο για τον Θεό ούτε για έναν Άγιο. Το εμπόδιο σε εμάς τους ανθρώπους είναι η ολιγοπιστία , με την οποία εμποδίζουμε τις μεγάλες δυνάμεις να μας πλησιάσουν. Και ενώ υπάρχει τόσο μεγάλη δύναμη δίπλα μας, εμείς, επειδή υπάρχει μέσα μας σε μεγάλο βαθμό το ανθρώπινο στοιχείο, δεν μπορούμε να καταλάβουμε το θείο , που ξεπερνάει όλου του κόσμου τις ανθρώπινες δυνάμεις, γιατί οι θείες δυνάμεις είναι παντοδύναμες.

Καθόμαστε πολλές φορές άδικα, ώρες ολόκληρες ,για να βρούμε μόνοι μας λύση σε ένα θέμα, χρησιμοποιώντας όλη την απειρία μας. Το κεφάλι μας γίνεται κουδούνι, ο ύπνος δεν μας πιάνει , γιατί μας έχει πιάσει το ταγκαλάκι με επίμονες σκέψεις. Τελικά βρίσκουμε μια λύση, αλλά μετά ο Θεός μας βρίσκει άλλη, καλύτερη λύση , που δεν την είχαμε σκεφθή εμείς, και μας μένουν ο πονοκέφαλος και τα ξενύχτια. Όσο και αν είναι σωστή η δική μας σκέψη, όταν δεν είναι ο Θεός μπροστά , το κεφάλι κουράζεται και έρχεται πονοκέφαλος ,ενώ η προσευχή με την εμπιστοσύνη στον Θεό ξεκουράζει. Για αυτό ας αφήνουμε με εμπιστοσύνη στον Θεό τα δυσκολοκατόρθωτα ανθρωπίνως και να μην στηριζώμαστε στις δικές μας ανθρώπινες προσπάθειες , και Εκείνος θα κάνει ό,τι είναι καλύτερο.

Και πάντα για καθετί που σκέφτεσθε να κάνετε, να λέτε «αν θέλη ο Θεός», μην πάθετε κι εσείς ό,τι έπαθε κάποιος μια φορά. Είχε αποφασίσει να πάη στο αμπέλι του για δουλειά. «Αύριο πρωί-πρωί ,λέει στην γυναίκα του , θα πάω στο αμπέλι» . «Αν θέλη ο Θεός ,θα πας» του λέει εκείνη. «Θέλει – δεν θέλει ο Θεός , λέει εκείνος, εγώ θα πάω» . Την άλλη μέρα ξεκίνησε νύχτα. Στον δρόμο εν τω μεταξύ πιάνει τέτοιος κατακλυσμός, που αναγκάσθηκε να γυρίσει πίσω. Δεν είχε φέξει ακόμη. Χτυπάει την πόρτα . «Ποιος είναι;» , ρωτάει η γυναίκα του. «Αν θέλει ο Θεός, λέει εκείνος, ο άνδρας σου είμαι» !

Από το βιβλίο «Πνευματική αφύπνιση», Αγίου Παϊσίου Αγιορείτου


The greatest offering we can present to the Lord is our self. Archim. Zacharias Zacharou

Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou

Ηλία Προφήτη_Prophet Elijah-Elias_Илия пророк_ΗΛΙΑ_kT86i81x5ewGod does not need our fasting. He does not even need our prayer. The Perfect cannot be thought of as suffering any lack or needing anything that we, the creatures of His making, could give Him. Nor does he crave anything from us, but, says John Chrysostom, He allows us to bring Him offerings for the sake of our own salvation.

The greatest offering we can present to the Lord is our self. We cannot do this without giving up our own will. We learn to do this through obedience, and obedience we learn through practice. The best form of practice is that provided by the Church in her prescribed fast days and seasons.

Besides fasting we have other teachers to whom we can show obedience. They meet us at every step in our daily life, if only we recognize their voices. Your wife wants you to take your raincoat with you: do as she wishes, to practice obedience. Your fellow-worker asks you to walk with her a little way: go with her to practice obedience. Wordlessly the infant asks for care and companionship: do as it wishes as far as you can, and thus practice obedience. A novice in a cloister could not find more opportunity for obedience than you in your own home. And likewise at your job and in your dealings with your neighbour.
Obedience breaks down many barriers. You achieve freedom and peace as your heart practices non-resistance. You show obedience, and thorny hedges give way before you. Then love has open space in which to move about. By obedience you crush your pride, your desire to contradict, your self-wisdom and stubbornness that imprison you within a hard shell. Inside that shell you cannot meet the God of love and freedom.

Thus, make it a habit to rejoice when an opportunity for obedience offers. It is quite unnecessary to seek one, for you may easily fall into a studied servility that leads you astray into self-righteous virtue. You may depend upon it that you are sent just as many opportunities for obedience as you need, and the very kind that are most suitable for you. But if you notice that you have let an opportunity slip by, reproach yourself; you have been like a sailor who has let a favourable wind go by unused.

For the wind it was a matter of indifference whether it was used or not. But for the sailor it was a means of reaching his destination sooner. Thus you should think of obedience, and all the means that are offered us by the Holy Trinity, in that way.

And so God provides us with guides and teaches us the practice of obedience, conforming us to His will. It is an apprenticeship of the Spirit – Who is everywhere present and filling all things.

From The Enlargement of the Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou


let our eyes be enlightened by the light of the word of God… Archbishop Platon of Kostroma

Μελέτη αγ.Γραφών_Study st. Bibl _Изучение Священное Писание-0_3cfce_45190a3_XL

A Sermon on Reading Spiritual Works
by Archbishop Platon of Kostroma

When I read holy books,” says St. Gregory the Theologian about the books of St. Basil the Great, ‘then the spirit and body are illumined and I become the temple of God and the harp of the Holy Spirit, played by divine powers through them I am corrected and through them I receive a kind of divine change and I am made into a different person.” The great Hierarch Gregory says this about reading holy writings out of his own experience. They completely transfigure a person, making him into a saint and deifying him.

Do you remember how the conversion of the Blessed Augustine was accomplished? For a long time the grace of God had already touched his heart. He could not bear the torment of soul caused by his sinful life and yet at the same time he could not leave it. He both wanted it and did not want it. But as soon as he heard the words, “Take, read,” and had read several words, he immediately resolved to abandon his sinful life. What gave cause to such a change? The advice which is often heard, but is rarely given the attention it deserves: “take and read.”

Therefore, cleave to reading spiritual writings. It will lead you to that wonderful change which took place in so many saints. Through these works we receive great and holy enlightenment… So let our eyes be enlightened by the light of the word of God, for Sacred Scripture enlightens more brightly than the sun those who read with love and who keep the commandments of God.

The Psalmist says, “How sweet to my tongue are Thy words, 0 Lord” (Ps. 118:103), “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb” (Ps. 108). This food pleases every palate. This is the true manna, the heavenly food, the angelic bread which was prepared by Heaven without labor on our part, and which has in it every sort of sweetness and every sort of fragrance, satisfying every man’s needs.

From Orthodox Life, Vol. 34, No. 3 (May-June, 1984), pp. 30-34. Translated by Basil Voytan from A Chrestomathy of Sermons (in Russian), Vol. II, pp. 316-319, Jordanville, 1965.

***

One of the prime ways in which the devil seeks to devour us was revealed to a disciple of St. Paisius Velichkovsky. After the death of St. Paisius his disciple Sophronius succeeded him as abbot. One morning, when he went to the main gate of the monastery a little before Matins, he saw a frightful looking demon. The demon spoke of his warfare against the monks, and Abbot Sophronius asked him what was the greatest weapon he employed against the monks of this day. The demon then answered that it was to keep them distracted from spiritual occupations such as prayer and the reading of spiritual books. The demon said: “Why don’t you read my books? They are spiritual, for I too am a spirit and I inspire men to write.”

(see Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky by Schema-monk Metrophanes, Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA 1976)


Κραυγή ικεσίας των κατσικιών στην έρημο του Σινά….

Παΐσιος o Αγιορείτης _Saint Paisios of Mount Athos_ Паи́сий Святого́рец_saint-paisius-3

Άλλοτε πάλι, όταν έγινε μεγάλη ξηρασία στην έρημο του Σινά , μαζεύτηκε ένα μεγάλο κοπάδι κατσικιών και γύριζαν όλα τα μέρη στα Αρσελάου ζητώντας να πιουν νερό και δεν εύρισκαν, γιατί ήταν μήνας Αύγουστος.

Όταν λοιπόν επρόκειτο όλη αυτή η αγέλη να εξολοθρευθεί από τη δίψα, ανέβηκαν σε μια βουνοκορφή πιο ψηλή από όλα τα βουνά της έρημου.

Κι αφού όλα εκείνα τα ζώα κοίταξαν στον ουρανό, έβαλαν μαζί δυνατές φωνές σαν να φώναζαν προς τον Θεό, τον δημιουργό και Κύριο της δόξας.

Και δεν έφυγαν απ’ αυτόν τον τόπο, αλλά, λέγουν ότι έπεσε κοντά τους βροχή, μόνο στον τόπο εκείνο πού βρισκόταν και έτσι ήπιαν, σύμφωνα με τον λόγο του προφήτη, που λέγει για τον Θεό ότι δίνει στα κτήνη την τροφή τους και στους νεοσσούς των κοράκων, πού τον παρακαλούν.

Το Γεροντικό του Σινά, Δημήτριου Γ. Τσάμη, Εκδόσεις της Ιεράς Μονής του Θεοβαδίστου Όρους Σινά, Θεσσαλονίκη 1988,σελ. 240-3

Mausoleums_der_Galla_Placidia_in_Ravenna_008

Ο άγιος Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης όταν πήγε στο Σινά εγκαταστάθηκε στο ασκητήριο των αγίων Γαλακτίωνος και Επιστήμης…Πολύ κοντά, «ωσεί λίθου βολήν», στο ασκητήριο είχε μια μικρή πηγούλα. Μάζευε το 24ωρο δυό-τρία κιλά νερό. Έλεγε ο Γέροντας: «Πήγαινα με ένα τενεκάκι να πάρω νερό, για να κάνω τσάι ή να βρέξω λίγο το μέτωπο, λέγοντας τους χαιρετισμούς με ευγνωμοσύνη και τα μάτια μου πλημμύριζαν από δάκρυα. «Θεέ μου,» έλεγα, «λίγο νερό να πίνω˙ δεν θέλω τίποτε άλλο». Τόσο πολύτιμο ήταν αυτό το λιγοστό νεράκι γι αυτόν που ήθελε να ζήση εκεί στην έρημο. Αλλά και αυτό ο Γέροντας το μοιραζόταν με τα άγρια ζώα και τα διψασμένα πουλιά της ερήμου.

Από το βιβλίο: «Γέρων Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης (1924-1994) – Ο Ασυρματιστής του Στρατού και του Θεού», Δημήτριος Καραΐσκος, Εκδόσεις Γενικού Επιτελείου Στρατού, 2005