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Why are there no longer spiritual fathers? Fr. Rafail Noica

Fr. Rafail responds to one of the questions posed by St. Silouan, ‘why are there no longer spiritual fathers?’ He also talks about the Mystery of Confession and the relationship with the spiritual father in the Orthodox spiritual life.

Fr. Rafail: “Saint Silouan answered such a question saying: ‘because there are no longer good obedients…’ The good apprentice, the good obedient, is the man whose mind leans toward God and who seeks a response from God, not from people and who may turn to man because we can’t even reach God as Cain did… But when you turn to man, you must go with your attention towards God, with Whom you must have talked before then, praying that the man – your spiritual father – would give you the word. Take care of your inner self and, as Father Sophrony says, take hold of – seize, I’d say – the first word…”

Fr Sophrony Sakharov quoting from St. John Climacus establishes the connection between spiritual fatherhood and Christ Himself in his book ‘On Prayer’, p.89

“..spiritual fatherhood is linked with the mystery of the word of God, which is begotten in the heart of man through prayer Spiritual fathers are those who, in the fear of God, remain unwavering in the pre-eternal current of the will of God, and who are vouchsafed to hear the still small voice of Christ(I Kings 19:12), and to obey it with humility and discernment, overcoming their own psychological inclination,.”. Fr. Zacharias Zacharou, ‘The Enlargement of the Heart’ p.164, Mount Thabor Publishing, 2006. 

Άγιος Γέροντας Ιάκωβος της Εύβοιας_St. elder Iakovos of Evia_Старец Иаков (Тсаликис) Эвбейский -πολυχρονιας7“A spiritual father bears in himself the blessedness flowing from the knowledge of Christ way, and he thus becomes the means of leading the life of men out of the hell they have created, by the negative effect of their passions, and into pure Christian life and spiritual freedom.He is constrained by only one thought; how the person can be healed. ( Father Sophrony used to say that when the spiritual father prays for his children, as soon as he pronounces their names, he feels in his heart their state, weather they are in a good state or in a bad state, in comfort or in despair). The father confessor offers this sacred service on behalf of the little ones, the unfortunate ones who are themselves completely indifferent. He does not plot against their freedom, but instead considers exclusively his future reward. (That is to say, he must remain selfless, only consider God’s reward, and not expect to be rewarded by anyone or anything in this world).The spiritual father is the image of the ‘Good Shepherd’ who has greater love, and lays down his life for his sheep. John 10:11″ ibid p.174-175. “He offers repentance for himself and for all the sins of those whom God has entrusted to him”. ibid p.177.

But if Christ is to send such a father, he is to be sought in fervent prayer and in a spirit of repentance. Symeon (The New Theologian) told a Christian; ‘humble yourself and say, O Lord, You do not desire the death of the sinner but that he be converted and live. You descended to earth precisely to resurrect the ones who have fallen and are dead in consequence of their sin. You enable them to see You, the true light, as far as this is possible to man. Send me a man who knows You, that by entirely submitting myself to his service as to Yours and by fulfilling Your will by doing his, I may please You, the only God, and be awarded Your kingdom, even, I a sinner’. A certain identification is made here between Christ and the spiritual father, but it is always Christ, the one true God, who remains the real father”. Archbishop Basil Krivocheine, ‘In The Light of Christ’ p. 92-93, SVS Press,1986

Bishop Kallistos Ware

The spiritual father or Elder is essentially a “charismatic” and prophetic personality, who has undertaken that ministry with the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit. No human hand ordinates him, only the hand of God. It is the Church’s expression of an “event” and not the Church’s expression of an institution. Nevertheless, there exists no dividing line between the prophetic and the institutional elements in the life of the Church; each develops within the other and is entwined with it. Thus, the ministry that the Elders provide – which is charismatic per se – is linked to a clearly defined function within the institutional framework of the Church, which is that of a Priest-Confessor… Although the mystery of Confession is definitely a suitable opportunity for spiritual guidance, the function of an Elder does not relate to that of a confessor. An Elder provides guidance, not only during a person’s confession, but also in many other cases. It is a fact, that while a confessor must always be a Priest, an Elder can be an ordinary Monk…

But, if an Elder is not ordained, nor instated by an act of the official hierarchy, how does he reach the stage of undertaking such a ministry?… Within the continuing life of the Christian community, it becomes apparent to the faithful people of God – the true guardians of Sacred Tradition – that this or that person has the gift of spiritual paternity or maternity. Then, with a free and unofficial manner, people begin to approach those persons for counsel or guidance.» (“The Kingdom Within”, Akritas publications, Athens 1004, p.117-119)

According to Bishop Kallistos Ware: «In reality, the relationship is not bilateral, but triangular, because beyond the Elder and his spiritual child there is a third party: God. Our Lord tells us that we should not call anyone “father”, because we have only one father – the one in heaven (Matth.23:9). The Elder is not some kind of infallible judge or appellate, but a co-servant of the living God; he is not a dictator, but a guide and companion on the journey. The only true “spiritual guide” – in every sense of the word – is the Holy Spirit» (The Kingdom Within, p. 139).

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St. James, Brother of the Lord prayed with tears and sighs for the whole world.

St. Iakovos (James) Adelphotheos (the Brother of God), and First Bishop of Jerusalem (62 AD)

Commemorated October 23

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. . (James,4: 6)
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. . (James,4:10)
Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job. (James,5:11)
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James,1:12)
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. . (James,1:17)

The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ιάκωβος Αδελφόθεος_St James_Adelphotheos-Brother_of the Lord_Св. Ап.Иа́ков брат Господень_ 0_139c96_27James is called the Lord’s brother because he was the son of the righteous Joseph, the betrothed of the Most-holy Theotokos. When the righteous Joseph was near death, he divided his estate among his sons, and wanted to leave a portion to the Lord Jesus, the son of the Most-holy Virgin, but all the other brothers opposed this, not regarding Jesus as their brother. James greatly loved Jesus and declared that he would include Jesus in his share. That is why he is called the Lord’s brother. From the beginning, James was devoted to the Lord Jesus. According to tradition, he traveled to Egypt with the Most-holy Virgin and Joseph, when Herod sought to slay the newborn King. Later, as soon as he heard Christ’s teaching, James lived by it. It is said of him that he never ate fat or oil, but lived on just bread and water, and was a virgin to the end of his life on earth. He often kept vigil at night and prayed to God. The Lord numbered him among His Seventy Apostles. Following His glorious Resurrection, the Lord appeared to him especially, as the Apostle Paul testifies (I Corinthians 15:7). He was Bishop of Jerusalem for thirty years and zealously governed the Church of God. At the instruction of the Lord, James compiled the first Liturgy, which seemed very long for later Christians, and St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom shortened it. He converted many Jews and Greeks to the Christian Faith, and even the unbelieving Jews were amazed at his righteousness, referring to him as “James the Just.” When Ananias became High Priest, he and other Jewish elders determined to kill James for being a preacher of Christ. Once, during the feast of Passover, when many people had gathered in Jerusalem, the elders forced James to climb onto the roof of the Temple, and tried to make him speak against Christ. He climbed up and spoke to the people of Christ as the Son of God and the true Messiah, of His Resurrection and His eternal glory in the heavens. The infuriated priests and elders pushed him off the roof; he fell and was severely injured, but was still alive. Then, one man ran up and struck him on the head with a fuller’s club with such force that his brains spilled out. Thus, this most glorious apostle of Christ died a martyr’s death, and went to live eternally in the Kingdom of his Lord. James was sixty-six years old when he suffered for Christ.

***

St. James fed only on bread and that not to satisfaction. He slept very little, and spent his nights in prayer. He knelt so much in prayer that the skin on his knees became as hard as the skin on the knees of a camel. This brother of the Lord prayed with tears and sighs not only for the Church, which he governed, but also for the whole world. Even when he was pushed from the temple roof by the malicious Jews, and thus was completely broken, the holy apostle never forgot his debt to God and to men. Gathering his last strength, he raised himself to his knees, stretched forth his hands toward heaven and fervently prayed to God saying: “Lord, forgive them this sin, for they know not what they are doing.” While he was praying thus, wicked men struck him with stones from all sides. Seeing this, one of the sons of Rechab cried out: “Stop! What are you doing? The righteous one is praying to God for you, and you are killing him!” However, that shout of a compassionate soul could not deter the murderers, accustomed to evildoing, from killing the saint of God. So it was that the apostles did not rely on grace alone, but also put forth nearly superhuman effort to show themselves worthy of God’s grace.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date October 23, and New Calendar date November 5.
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2010/04/prologue-october-23-november-5.html

St. Isaac of Syria

As a grain of sand weighed against a large amount of gold, so, in God, is the demand for equitable justice weighed against his compassion. As a handful of sand in the boundless ocean, so are the sins of the flesh in comparison with God’s providence and mercy. As a copious spring could not be stopped up with a handful of dust, so the Creator’s compassion cannot be conquered by the wickedness of creatures.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Ιάκωβος Αδελφόθεος_St James_Adelphotheos-Brother_of the Lord_Св. Ап.Иа́ков брат Господень_James_the_Just_230Unless we look at a person and see the beauty there is in this person, we can contribute nothing to him. One does not help a person by discerning what is wrong, what is ugly, what is distorted. Christ looked at everyone he met, at the prostitute, at the thief, and saw the beauty hidden there. Perhaps it was distorted, perhaps damaged, but it was beauty none the less, and what he did was to call out this beauty.

Every one of us is in the image of God, and every one of us is like a damaged icon. But if we were given an icon damaged by time, damaged by circumstances, or desecrated by human hatred, we would treat it with reverence, with tenderness, with broken-heartedness. We would not pay attention primarily to the fact that it is damaged, but to the tragedy of its being damaged. We would concentrate on what is left of its beauty, and not on what is lost of its beauty. And this is what we must learn to do with regard to each person as an individual, but also – and this is not always as easy – with regard to groups of people, whether it be a parish or a denomination, or a nation. We must learn to look, and look until we have seen the underlying beauty of this group of people. Only then can we even begin to do something to call out all the beauty that is there. Listen to other people, and whenever you discern something which sounds true, which is a revelation of harmony and beauty, emphasize it and help it to flower. Strengthen it and encourage it to live.

Apolytikion St. James the Just , Adelphotheos in the Fourth Tone

As the Lord’s disciple, O righteous One, you received the Gospel, as Martyr, you have unwavering courage, as the Lord’s brother, you have forthrightness, as Hierarch, intercession. Intercede with Christ our God, that our souls may be saved.

 


Saint Kuksha of Odessa ‘Oh raven, raven, you fed the Prophet Elias in the wilderness; bring me too a piece of pirogue.’

Saint Kuksha of Odessa

Commemorated on December 24 reposed, September 16/29 -the uncovering of his holy relics, October 22

Κούξα της Οδησσού -St. Kuksha of Odessa- Святой Кукша Одесский-334302279_w640_h2048_3234016There were many miracles of healing that came through elder Kuksha’s prayers. He was also clairvoyant, and could see people’s most secret thoughts, counseling and healing them with great spiritual discernment. He never judged anyone for their sins, but would always say, “I myself am a sinner and I love sinners. There isn’t a person on earth that has never sinned. Only the Lord is without sin, but we are sinful.”

In 1938, Fr. Kuksha began eight years of difficult struggle as a confessor of the faith: he was sentenced to 5 years in the camps in Vilma in Molotov Region (now called the Perm region, in the Urals) and after that, to 3 years of exile.

In the camps, God did not abandon him. Fr. Kuksha recalled, “It was Pascha. I was so weak and hungry that the wind could knock me down. But the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the snow was beginning to melt. I walked around the camp next to the barbed wire, impossibly wanting to eat, and on the other side of the barbed wire the cook was carrying from the kitchen to the guard’s cafeteria a baking sheet piled high with pirogues (pies). The ravens were flying over them. I pleaded, ‘Oh raven, raven, you fed the Prophet Elias in the wilderness; bring me too a piece of pirogue.’ Suddenly I heard a ‘Caaww’ above my head and a pirogue fell at my feet—a raven had stolen it from the cook’s pan. I picked up the pirogue from the snow, thanked God as I wept, and staved my hunger.”

Fr. Kuksha was released from prison camp in the spring of 1943, on the feast of Holy Great-martyr George the Trophy-bearer.

One spiritual daughter wanted to know what it was like when Fr. Kuksha served the Liturgy. “One day,” she related, “I came to the caves church when Fr. Kuksha was serving the Divine Liturgy. I immediately felt my soul was very close to God, as if there were nothing but God and me. With every proclamation by Fr. Kuksha my soul rose higher, and such grace filled it, as if I were standing before the Face of God in heaven. My soul felt pure as a child, extraordinarily bright, light, and joyful. Not a single other thought distracted me from God. I remained in that state to the end of the Liturgy.” After the Liturgy, when the woman saw elder Kuksha he looked deep into her eyes to see the state of her soul. She understood that the elder had given her this gift of experiencing the blessedness that he always felt when celebrating Divine Liturgy.
Also concerning the Liturgy, Fr. Kuksha told people never to approach the chalice with money, for this likens them to Judas.

He reposed at 2:00 AM, and at 2:00 PM the same day, a Cross was already standing over the mounded earth of his grave. He was about 90 years of age at the time of his death.” St. Kuksha is commemorated on September 16/29—the day of the uncovering of his holy relics.

Saint Elder Kuksha of Odessa (Velichkovsky, +1964) has said:

The end of times is approaching. Soon we will witness the ‘ecumenical’ Council called the ‘holy’ one. But it will be the very same Eighth Council that has been foreseen as a congregation of ungodly. Upon that Council all religions will be unified into one. As a result of that Council all fasts will be abolished, monkhood destroyed and bishops will be allowed to get married (with either women or men – to everybody liking). The Orthodox Church will introduce the New Liturgical Calendar. Be watchful. Try to attend Church services as long as the Churches are still ours. Soon you will no longer be allowed to attend them for everything will change. Only the chosen ones will see this. People will be forced to go to churches but you are absolutely banned from going there. I beseech you: stay Orthodox until the end of your days and redeem yourselves.’ (‘The Orthodox Word’, 1991, No. 158, p.138-141)

 


St. Marina of Raithu (El Tor) and the Burning pilgrims and hermits in Sinai

St. Marina of Raithu (El Tor) in Sinai

Commemorated on October 21
and The Wednesday after Pascha: feast day of All Saints of Mount Sinai

Σιναΐτες Άγιοι_All Saints of Mount Sinai_Святые отцы Синайской горы_σιναιτεσ sinaxi_sinaiton_pateron Ten years ago a certain two of the fathers of Holy Mount Sinai went up to worship on the Holy Summit. One of them is still alive. When they arrived at a distance of about two bow-shot from [the chapel of] Saint Elias they smelled a fragrance unlike any worldly fragrance. Then the disciple thought that the one who dwelt there was offering incense. The elder, his spiritual guide who is still living said, “The fragrance is not of this earth.”

Therefore, approaching the church, behold they saw within it like a fiery flaming kiln with tongues of fire coming from all the doors (and windows). Then, seeing this the disciple feared the sight. But the elder reassured him saying, “Why are you afraid, my child. It is an angelic power and our fellow servant; don’t lose courage. They venerate our nature in heaven; not we theirs.” Thus they fearlessly entered the church as if (going) into a kiln. They prayed and thus they ascended to the summit in the morning.

Beholding them, the guardian (of the peak) saw their faces glorified and shining like the face of Moses and he said to them, “Did you see anything unusual coming up?” Wanting to conceal the matter, they said, “No”. Then he said to them, Believe me, you saw some vision for behold your faces are radiant with the glory of the Holy Spirit.” They bowed to him and related the matter, asking that he tell nobody.

Another time, there being a great lack of rain in the wilderness, all the wild goats gathered together in a flock and went about all the region of Arselaou seeking water and finding none, for it was August. As all the goats were about to perish from thirst they went up to the peak of the highest of all the mountains in the desert. And all the beasts looking up to heaven, they cried out as if shouting “Hosanna” to the Creator. And as the Lord of Glory spoke, even before they moved from the place the water came down on that place and only there. This He did according to the voice of the prophet who said concerning God, “Giving to the cattle their food and to the young of the ravens who call on Him” ({bible}Psalm 147.9{/bible} [146.9 LXX]).

 A few years ago one of the fathers took his disciple at the holy fast and said to him, “Son, in these holy days let us take hold of our citizenship. Let us go into the desert. Certainly God will make us worthy to see one of his servants among the anchorites and we will receive his blessing.” When they came to the area of Siddi they saw, down deep in a ravine, a cell and trees with all kinds of fruit, although it was the wrong season. When they descended and were near it they called out, “Your blessings, fathers.” They answered them, “Welcome, fathers.” And with the word everything disappeared, the cell and the trees. When they returned to the summit of the mountain, the cell was seen again, and they descended as before. And when they were near and said the word and heard the reply, again everything disappeared. Then the old man said to the brother, “Let us go from this place, son. I believe in Christ, and since the servants of God said to us, ‘Welcome’, Christ will make us worthy to approach them in the future age through their prayers and intercessions, their sweat and toil.”

At the gorge of Siddi dwelt a holy man having with him in the house a disciple. Once he sent him to Raithou. After being three days in the desert near the crossroads the elder, gazing in divine contemplation, saw the disciple coming from a distance. Thinking that it was a Saracen and desiring to elude him, he transformed himself into a palm tree. Coming to the place the disciple struck him with the flat of his hand wonderingly and said, “Since when did this palm tree grow here?”
Transformed again by the hand of God, the elder reached the cave before his disciple. Receiving him the elder said to him jokingly the next day, “What did I do to you the you gave me a blow yesterday?” Not understanding the matter, the disciple struck himself in denial. Then the elder told him the source of the palm tree, that it had been he himself, and that not desiring human distraction he had changed his appearance to that of a palm tree.

There are often Armenians, as everybody knows, who come to Mount Sinai. Twenty years ago a big group of Armenians visited, about 800 souls. They ascended the Holy Peak and arrived at the sacred stone where Moses received the Law. There a vision of God and an awesome wonder occurred at the Holy Place and among the people as happened before at the giving of the Law, for the people appeared to be in flames. The paradox was that nobody saw himself on fire but only those around him were fiery. The people remained astounded and sang the Kyrie Eleison for about an hour. The fire withdrew and not a hair or a garment was harmed but only the staff with which each ascended continued to burn like candles as a witness to the vision and then they too went out. The tips of the staffs remained scorched as if by fire as a sign of the burning, witnessing in this way in their own land.

Anastasius of Sinai, ‘the New Moses’, concerning the holy fathers in Sinai. Written by Anastasius of Sinai.

Troparion St. Marina of Raithu (El Tor) , In Tone VIII:

   In thee, O mother, was the image of God revealed; * for having taken up thy Cross, and following Christ, * thou didst teach by thine own example * that the flesh is to be spurned as something fleeting, * but particular care should be bestowed upon the immortal soul, * wherefore together with the Angels thy soul rejoiceth, O Mother Marina.

In Tone I:Spec. Mel.: Of the heavenly orders.

Desiring the fair beauty of the Bridegroom Christ, * and striving to betroth thyself to Him, * thou didst adorn thyself with the labors of asceticism, * and with a multitude of good deeds O Marina, * wherefore thou dost now reign with Him in paradise.

Glory …, In Tone VI:
Thy sacred celebration hath today shone forth * more brightly than the sun, * illumining those in darkness, * and vanquishing the mist of demons, * O wonder-worthy one.

ODE IX, Irmos: All are awestruck at hearing 

In thy soul didst thou harbor true humility and understanding, divine compassion, undoubting faith, hope, and love for God, drawing close to Him in vigil, thou wast illumined and enlightened by the grace of God, O blessed Marina.


Monks and Modern Conveniences, St. Paisios the Athonite

St. Paisios the Athonite

Monks and Modern Conveniences

ασκητές__asketes_Zy0w6QIw2yIGeronda, how should a monk use modern conven­iences?

He should always have fewer and simpler things than the rest of the people. I feel much better when I use wood for heating, cooking and handiwork. But when the forests become obsolete, I will use the simplest and cheapest available resources. An oil stove, for example, or some humble type of heating, and petrol gas for handiwork.

– How can one determine whether something is re­ally essential in a Coenobitic Monastery?

– If they think in a monastic way, it will be easy to figure it out. If a monk or nun does not think in a monastic way, then everything becomes a necessity and he becomes worse than those who live in the world. Monks must live in humbler circumstances than they did when they lived in the world; never better. We should not have better things here than we did at home. In general, the Monastery must be poorer than the homes in which we were raised. This will help the monk with his interior life and will also be of help to lay people. God has provided that we do not find peace in possessions and comforts. If laymen are troubled by all these modern comforts, you can imagine how much more they trouble the monk. If I found myself in a rich house and the host asked where I would like to stay, in the living room with the fancy furniture, or in a stable with a couple of goats, I would honestly say that I prefer the stable with the goats because I would find more peace there. When I left the world to become a monk, I was not seeking a better house or a palace. My goal was to find something worse than what I had been used to. Otherwise I am not doing anything for Christ. But today’s logic works like this: “How could living in a palace harm your soul? If you stay in the stable, it’s going to stink while the palace will be full of sweet scents and it will be easier to make your prostrations.” We must have a spiritual sensor. You see in a compass, both arrows have magnets that turn it in one direction or the other. Christ has a magnet too, but we need one ourselves in order to turn towards Him.
In the old days, life in the Coenobitic Monasteries was so hard! I remember in the kitchen they had a cauldron and used a crank to lift it. And we used wood to light the fire in order to cook. The fire was either too low or too high and the food would stick at the bottom of the cauldron. When fish would get stuck, they used a steel broom to scrape the bottom. Then we had to collect the ashes and place them in a clay jar with a hole underneath to make lye and wash the dishes. This was so rough on our hands! And we lifted the water with a windlass to the archontariki. Some of the things that I see today in Monasteries are not justified.
In one Monastery, I saw the monks cutting bread with a machine. That’s not right! If someone is ill or not feeling well and cannot cut the bread with a knife, and there is a need to cut it because there is no one else to do it, then using a machine is justified. But when you see a healthy man cutting the bread with a wheel, you know there’s something wrong. This fellow can work a jackhammer, but he uses a machine to cut bread, and considers it an achievement!
Make sure that you advance in spiritual matters and not in equipment and comfort. Do not delight in these things. If Monasticism abandons the ascetic life, it will not be Monasticism anymore. If you put convenience above Monasticism, above ascesis, you will not prosper. The monk avoids conveniences, because they do not help him spiritually. In secular life, excessive conveniences make life difficult for people. But comforts do not befit a monk, even if he could find peace in them. We should not seek comforts. During the time of Saint Arsenios the Great (4), they did not have electricity or gas lights; only some fancy lamps in the palace that used very fine oil. Couldn’t he have brought these lamps with him in the desert? Of course he could. But he did not do it. He used a cotton fuse with whatever kind of seed oil was available at that time.
In doing our chores, we sometimes may justify the use of machines or other conveniences to do our work faster and have more time for our spiritual life. As a result our life becomes stressful and full of concerns and anx­ieties, and we come to resemble lay people rather than monks. When some young monks joined a Monastery, the first thing they did was to buy pressure cookers in order to gain time for their spiritual activities; they ended up sitting around and talking for hours. It’s not that modern conveniences help us gain time and apply it to spiritual things. These devices do save us time, but we don’t seem to have enough time to dedicate to prayer.

– Geronda, I heard people say that Saint Athanasios the Athonite was a progressive!

Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης _ св. Паисий Святогорец_ St.Paisios of the Holy Mountain_Овсяников.-Старец-Паисий-Святогорец.-2006– Yes, he was progressive, but not in the sense that people understand the word today. Let them read the life of Saint Athanasios and see the difference. The Monastery had eight hundred to one thousand monks during his time and many people sought help there! There were numerous poor and hungry people who gathered at the Lavra Monastery to find food and shelter. The Saint had even purchased two oxen for the mill in order to cope with all these mouths. Why don’t they do the same today? He had to create a modern type oven so that he would have bread to give to people. The Byzantine emperors had endowed the Monasteries with a lot of property because they served as Charitable Institutions. The Monasteries were established to help people spiritually and materially, which is why the emperors endowed them so well.
We must understand that if we carry on this way (without discrimination), the day will come when this world will end, and we will find ourselves standing be­fore God, in debt. We monks should make use not only of everything that people discard today, but also of all useless things that the rich have thrown away in the past. You must remember two things: first that we are going to die and secondly that we may not die from natural causes. Either way, you should be prepared. If you remember these two things, all will go well, spiritually or otherwise. And then everything else will fall into place.

 


Repent,… Great evil is coming, comes from a lot of sin. St. Sophia of Kleisoura, the “Ascetic of the Panagia”

Joel, the Prophet of Pentecost

Commemorated on October 19

ιησους ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ“Yet even now return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repents of evil (Joel 2: 12-13).”

What would result from heartfelt repentance? Ultimately the world would experience an outpouring of the Spirit of God upon the earth.

St. Peter, in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, said:

“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him” (Acts 2: 36-39).

Joel’s prophesy, repeated in St. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost that God would, ” … will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters … ” (Joel 2:28-32, Act 2:14-21).

The Prophet said, «And it shall come to pass that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be delivered» ( Joel 2: 32).

We must have the Spirit of God implanted in our hearts so the fruit of the spirit may emerge from us. St. Paul wrote that the fruit of the Spirit » … is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.» When the fruit of the spirit is present, we have the Spirit in us and so is the prophesy of Joel fulfilled.

St. Paisios the Athonite

When someone gives his heart to God, then the mind of this man is also seized by the love of God. He is indifferent towards worldly things and continually thinks about the Heavenly Father, and being divinely in love, he glorifies his Creator day and night like an angel.”

Ask for repentance in your prayer and nothing else, neither for divine lights, nor miracles, nor prophecies, nor spiritual gifts—nothing but repentance. Repentance will bring you humility, humility will bring you the Grace of God, and God will have in His Grace everything you need for your salvation, or anything you might need to help another soul.”

Things are very simple, and there is no reason why we should complicate them. If we regard matters in this way, we will feel the Jesus Prayer as a necessity and will not grow weary. We will be able to repeat it many times and our heart will feel a sweet pain, and then Christ Himself will shed His sweet consolation inside our heart.”

“Thus prayer does not tire but invigorates. It is tiresome only when we do not enter into its meaning and do not understand the sense given it by our Holy Fathers. Once we comprehend the need of God’s mercy, the desire of this hunger will compel us, without pressuring ourselves in prayer, to open our mouth like a nursing infant, and we will feel, simultaneously, all the security and joy of a baby in its mother’s embrace.”

Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

God rebukes, and God makes glad. Just one repentant thought eases the wrath of God; for God is not angry at men as an enemy is angry, but His anger toward men is as that of a father toward his children. His anger is momentary, and His mercy is infinite. If He rebukes you in the evening, He causes you to rejoice in the morning; men know Him best in His rebuking and in His mercy. O my brethren, if men constantly knew and recognized God as the Doer of good, they would never know Him as Rebuker and Judge. Behold, God rejoices more when we recognize Him by His mercy than by His anger.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Teacher, rebuke us, but forgive us; chastise us, but save us.

St. Sophia the Righteous, the “Ascetic of the Panagia”

Σοφία η εν Κλεισούρα_St. Sophia the Ascetic of Kleisoura_Св. Софии (Хотокуриди)_osia_sofiaRepent, because the clouds of wrath of God have approaching the earth. Great evil is coming, comes from a lot of sin.

The angels speak every day. God sends the angels to see if people are repenting.

The Mother of God weeps, she weeps every day. She says to her Son: “My Son and my God, grant the world wisdom, forgive the world.”

The fear of God makes a person wise. What is the fear of God? Not that one should be afraid of God, but to be afraid to sadden someone, to harm someone, to do them no wrong, and to not make accusations. This is wisdom. After all this, God will illumine you as to what to do in your life.

Repent, my children…May you have prayer…day and night…wherever you walk, wherever you are found, wherever you are standing, always you should say: “My Christ, have mercy on me!”

Panagia told me where, in the Holy Books of the chosen of my Son, it says everything that will occur in time. A third war will occur…Three-quarters of mankind will be destroyed…Only one-quarter will be saved…

Greece, if she keeps the faith, will be saved from the evil which is about to come. If, however, she does not keep the faith, she will be destroyed…All the demons will fall upon her…The evil will come and the wheat will be separated from the chaff, the sheep from the goats…

If the world repents, we will take back the City [Constantinople] with Love… If we do not repent, we will take it back with blood…
Have fear of God…Have Love…Have compassion.

Starets Lavrenty (Laurence) of the Chernigov (+1950) said: There will be a war, and where it passes, there will be none left alive! But, prior to that time, the Lord will send minor ailments to the weak and they will die, for during antichrist’s time there will no longer be any death. The Third World War will not be for repentance, but for annihilation; but the Lord will leave the strongest alive, that they might confront him [antichrist].

Apolytikion of Prophet Joel
Second Tone

As we celebrate the memory of Thy Prophet Joel, O Lord, through him we beseech Thee to save our souls.

Epistle Reading: Acts of the Apostles 2:14-21

IN THOSE DAYS, standing with the eleven, Peter lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ”


Apostle and Evangelist Luke by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Apostle and Evangelist Luke

Commemorated on October 18

Hymn of Praise
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Παναγία του Κύκκου ή Παναγία ΔεξιοκρατούσαEleousa-tou-kykkou-web-4Saint Luke the Apostle and Evangelist
The divine Luke, both wise and learned,
Was tortured willingly for the Lord.
He could have avoided mockery and torture,
But the world would not have had the great Luke.
The young Luke beheld God’s truth
And surrendered his heart to the Son of God.
He hearkened to the Teacher, beheld the Wonderworker,
And in Him he recognized the Immortal Creator.
He beheld the Resurrected One, and spoke with Him,
And worked miracles in His name.
Christ became his only joy,
And Luke sacrificed his mind, wealth and youth to Him.
When Luke became old, he was young in Christ,
And gave to the world what he received from the Lord.
And when he had given the world all he could give,
Then the world, fulfilling the Scripture, repaid him with contempt.
From an old olive tree the aged Luke hung,
With a smile on his face and his arms folded crosswise.
And the hand of Christ came down from heaven
And received the soul of His Evangelist.
Now, in radiant Paradise with the other apostles,
St. Luke prays for the Holy Church.

The Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke

Luke was born in Antioch. In his youth, he excelled in his studies of Greek philosophy, medicine and art. During the ministry of the Lord Jesus on earth, Luke came to Jerusalem, where he saw the Savior face to face, heard His saving teaching and was witness to His miraculous works. Coming to belief in the Lord, St. Luke was numbered among the Seventy Apostles, and was sent out to preach. With Cleopas, he saw the resurrected Lord on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Luke returned to Antioch and there became a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul and traveled to Rome with him, converting Jews and pagans to the Christian Faith. Luke, the beloved physician, … greets you, writes the Apostle Paul to the Colossians. (Colossians 4:14). At the request of Christians, he wrote his Gospel in about the year 60. Following the martyrdom of the great Apostle Paul, St. Luke preached the Gospel throughout Italy, Dalmatia, Macedonia and other regions. He painted icons of the Most-holy Theotokos-not just one, but three-and icons of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Hence, St. Luke is considered to be the founder of Christian iconography. In old age, he visited Libya and Upper Egypt. From Egypt he returned to Greece, where he continued to preach and convert many with great zeal despite his old age. In addition to his Gospel, St. Luke wrote the Acts and dedicated both works to Theophilus, the governor of Achaia. Luke was eighty-four years old when the wicked idolaters tortured him for the sake of Christ and hanged him from an olive tree in the town of Thebes, in Boethia. The miracle-working relics of this wonderful saint were transported to Constantinople in the reign of Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine.

The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič 
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.com/2010/04/prologue-october-18-october-31.html

Troparion Apostle and Evangelist Luke— Tone 5

Let us praise with sacred songs the holy Apostle Luke, / the recorder of the joyous Gospel of Christ / and the scribe of the Acts of the Apostles, / for his writings are a testimony of the Church of Christ: / He is the physician of human weaknesses and infirmities. / He heals the wounds of our souls, / and constantly intercedes for our salvation!

Ποιές ήταν οι πρώτες εικόνες της Παναγίας; Ποιός τις έφτιαξε;
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/%CF%80%CE%BF%CE%B9%CE%AD%CF%82-%CE%AE%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%BD-%CE%BF%CE%B9-%CF%80%CF%81%CF%8E%CF%84%CE%B5%CF%82-%CE%B5%CE%B9%CE%BA%CF%8C%CE%BD%CE%B5%CF%82-%CF%84%CE%B7%CF%82-%CF%80%CE%B1%CE%BD%CE%B1%CE%B3/