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St Alexander Nevsky, “God is not in might but in Truth”.

St Alexander Nevsky

Commemorated on November 23

Αλέξανδρος Νιέφσκι св Александр Невский St. Alexander Nevsky3-ikona-801136_originalSt. Alexander Nevsky was Russia’s “knight in shining armor.” His reputation as a man of exceptional valor and surpassing virtue inspired a visit by a German commander who told his people when he returned: “I went through many countries and saw many people, but I have never met such a king among kings, nor such a prince among princes.” The Russians called him their “prince without sin.” In 1210, well armed Swedish troops moved onto Novgorod territory. Saint Alexander, then not yet twenty years old, prayed a long time in the church of Saint Sophia, the Wisdom of God. He recited the Psalm of David, saying: “Judge, O Lord, those who injure me, fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and rise up to help me” (Ps. 34/35). Archbishop Spyridon blessed the holy prince and his army for the battle. Preparing his men to repel the invaders, St. Alexander encouraged them with his now famous affirmation: “God is not in might but in Truth. ‘Some trust in princes and some in horses, but we will call upon the Lord our God.’ “

With a smaller force, trusting in the Holy Trinity, the prince hastened towards the enemy to await help from his father, not knowing whether the enemy would attack, nor when.

But there was a miraculous omen: at dawn on July 15 the warrior Pelgui, in Baptism Philip, saw a boat, and on it were the Holy Martyrs Boris and Gleb, in royal purple attire. Boris said: “Brother Gleb, let us help our kinsman Alexander.” When Pelgui reported the vision to the prince, Saint Alexander commanded that no one should speak about the miracle. Emboldened by this, he urged the army to fight valiantly against the Swedes.

The Russian forces, their Prince in the lead, were crowned with success after a fierce battle on the shores of the Neva.Because of this victory at the River Neva on July 15, 1240, the nation called the saint Alexander Nevsky.

The Jesus Prayer
by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

Αλέξανδρος Νιέφσκι св Александр Невский St. Alexander Nevsky3-ikona-801136_original333THOSE WHO HAVE read The way of a Pilgrim are familiar with the expression ‘The Jesus Prayer’. It refers to a short prayer the words of which are: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,’ constantly repeated. The Way of a Pilgrim is the story of a man who wanted to learn to pray constantly (1Thes 5:I7). As the man whose experience is being related is a pilgrim, a great many of his psychological characteristics, and the way in which he learned and applied the prayer, were conditioned by the fact that he lived in a certain way, which makes the book less universally applicable than it could be; and yet it is the best possible introduction to this prayer, which is one of the greatest treasures of the Orthodox Church.

The prayer is profoundly rooted in the spirit of the gospel, and it is not in vain that the great teachers of Orthodoxy have always insisted on the fact that the Jesus Prayer sums up the whole of the gospel. This is why the Jesus Prayer can only be used in its fullest sense if the person who uses it belongs to the gospel, is a member of the Church of Christ.

All the messages of the gospel, and more than the messages, the reality of the gospel, is contained in the name, in the Person of Jesus. If you take the first half of the prayer you will see how it expresses our faith in the Lord: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God.’ At the heart we find the name of Jesus; it is the name before whom every knee shall bow (Is 45:3), and when we pronounce it we affirm the historical event of the incarnation. We affirm that God, the Word of God, co-eternal with the father, became man, and that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in our midst (Col 2:9) bodily in his Person.

To see in the man of Galilee, in the prophet of Israel, the incarnate Word of God, God become man, we must be guided by the spirit, because it is the spirit of God who reveals to us both the incarnation and the lordship of Christ. We call him Christ, and we affirm thereby that in him were fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. To affirm that Jesus is the Christ implies that the whole history of the Old Testament is ours, that we accept it as the truth of God. We call him Son of God, because we know that the Messiah expected by the Jews, the man who was called ‘Son of David’ by Bartimaeus, is the incarnate Son of God. These words sum up all we know, all we believe about Jesus Christ, from the Old Testament to the New, and from the experience of the Church through the ages. In these few words we make a complete and perfect profession of faith.

But it is not enough to make this profession of faith; it is not enough to believe. The devils also believe and tremble (James 2:I9). Faith is not sufficient to work salvation, it must lead to the right relationship with God; and so, having professed, in its integrity, sharply and clearly, our faith in the Lordship and in the Person, in the historicity and in the divinity of Christ, we put ourselves face to face with Him, in the right state of mind: ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner’.

These words ‘have mercy’ are used in all the Christian Churches and, in Orthodoxy, they are the response of the people to all the petitions suggested by the priest. Our modern translation ‘have mercy’ is a limited and insufficient one. The Greek word which we find in the gospel and in the early liturgies is eleison. Eleison is of the same root as elaion, which means olive tree and the oil from it. If we look up the Old and New Testament in search of the passages connected with this basic idea, we will find it described in a variety of parables and events which allow us to form a complete idea of the meaning of the word. We find the image of the olive tree in Genesis. After the flood Noah sends birds, one after the other, to find out whether there is any dry land or not, and one of them, a dove – and it is significant that it is a dove – brings back a small twig of olive. This twig conveys to Noah and to all with him in the ark the news that the wrath of God has ceased, that God is now offering man a fresh opportunity. All those who are in the ark will be able to settle again on firm ground and make an attempt to live, and never more perhaps, if they can help it, undergo the wrath of God.

In the New Testament, in the parable of the good Samaritan, olive oil is poured to soothe and to heal. In the anointing of kings and priests in the Old Testament, it is again oil that is poured on the head as an image of the grace of God that comes down and flows on them (Ps I33:2) giving them new power to fulfil what is beyond human capabilities. The king is to stand on the threshold, between the will of men and the will of God, and he is called to lead his people to the fulfilment of God’s will; the priest also stands on that threshold, to proclaim the will of God and to do even more: to act for God, to pronounce God’s decrees and to apply God’s decision.

The oil speaks first of all of the end of the wrath of God, of the peace which God offers to the people who have offended against him; further it speaks of God healing us in order that we should be able to live and become what we are called to be; and as he knows that we are not capable with our own strength of fulfilling either his will or the laws of our own created nature, he pours his grace abundantly on us (Rom 5:20). He gives us power to do what we could not otherwise do.

The words milost and pomiluy in Slavonic have the same root as those which express tenderness, endearing, and when we use the words eleison, ‘have mercy on us’, pomiluy, we are not just asking God to save us from His wrath – we are asking for love.

If we turn back to the words of the Jesus Prayer, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’, we see that the first words express with exactness and integrity the gospel faith in Christ, the historical incarnation of the Word of God; and the end of the prayer expresses all the complex rich relationships of love that exist between God and his creatures.

Αλέξανδρος Νιέφσκι св Александр Невский St. Alexander Nevsky3-ikona-AlexandrNevskiy_bigThe Jesus Prayer is known to innumerable Orthodox, either as a rule of prayer or in addition to it, as a form of devotion, a short focal point that can be used at any moment, whatever the situation.

Numerous writers have mentioned the physical aspects of the prayer, the breathing exercises, the attention which is paid to the beating of the heart and a number of other minor features. The Philokalia is full of detailed instructions about the prayer of the heart, even with references to the Sufi technique. Ancient and modern Fathers have dealt with the subject, always coming to the same conclusion: never to attempt the physical exercises without strict guidance by a spiritual father.

What is of general use, and God given, is the actual praying, the repetition of the words, without any physical endeavour – not even movements of the tongue – and which can be used systematically to achieve an inner transformation. More than any other prayer, the Jesus Prayer aims at bringing us to stand in God’s presence with no other thought but the miracle of our standing there and God with us, because in the use of the Jesus Prayer there is nothing and no one except God and us.

The use of the prayer is dual, it is an act of worship as is every prayer, and on the ascetical level, it is a focus that allows us to keep our attention still in the presence of God.

It is a very companionable prayer, a friendly one, always at hand and very individual in spite of its monotonous repetitions. Whether in joy or in sorrow, it is, when it has become habitual, a quickening of the soul, a response to any call of God. The words of St Symeon, the New Theologian, apply to all its possible effects on us: ‘Do not worry about what will come next, you will discover it when it comes’.

from Living Prayer
Templegate Publishers Springfield, IL, 1966, p. 84 – 88
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Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia, He was a living incarnation of the Gospel

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia

Holy Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia reposed in the Lord on November 21 on the Feast of Hesychasm in the Entrance of the Theotokos

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.

Γέροντας Ιάκωβος της Εύβοιας_ St. elder Iakovos of Evia_Старец Иаков (Тсаликис) Эвбейский -Γ.ΙΑΚΩΒΟΣ-ΤΡΑΠΕΖΑ Ι.Μ.ΟΣ.ΔΑΥΙΔ.2.…Such a vessel of grace and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, was Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, one of the most important and saintly personalities of our day, a great and holy Elder, a true friend of God.
He was a living incarnation of the Gospel, and his aim was sanctification. From early childhood he enjoyed praying and would go to different chapels, light the icon-lamps and pray to the saints. In one chapel in his village, he was repeatedly able to speak to Saint Paraskevi. He submitted to God’s call, which came to him when he was still a small child, denied himself and took up the Cross of Christ until his last breath.

In 1951, he went to the Monastery of Saint David the Elder, where he was received in a miraculous manner by the saint himself…

His asceticism was astonishing. He ate like a bird, according to his biographer. He slept on the ground, for two hours in twenty-four. The whole night was devoted to prayer. Regarding his struggle, he used to say: ‘I do nothing. Whatever I do, it’s God doing it. Saint David brings me up to the mark for it’.

His humility, which was legendary and inspiring, was his main characteristic. The demons which were in the possessed people who went to the monastery cursed him and said: ‘We want to destroy you, to neutralize you, to exterminate you, but we can’t because of your humility’. He always highlighted his lack of education, his inadequacies and his humbleness. It was typical of him that, when he spoke, every now and again he’d say: ‘Forgive me’. He was forever asking people’s forgiveness, which was a sign of his humble outlook..

And when he became abbot he always said that he wasn’t responsible for what happened in the monastery: ‘Saint David’s the abbot here’, he maintained. When he served with other priests, he went to the corner of the altar, leaving them to lead the service. When they told him: ‘This isn’t right, you’re the abbot of the monastery’, he’d reply: ‘Son, Saint David’s the abbot here’.

As abbot he behaved towards the fathers and the visitors to the monastery with a surfeit of love and understanding and great discernment. His hospitality was proverbial. Typical of him was the discernment with which he approached people. He saw each person as an image of Christ and always had a good word to say to them. His comforting words, which went straight to the hearts of his listeners, became the starting-point of their repentance and spiritual life in the Church. The Elder had the gift, which he concealed, of insight and far-sight. He recognized the problem or the sin of each person and corrected them with discretion. Illumined by the Holy Spirit he would tell each person, in a few words, exactly what they needed. Saint Porfyrios said of the late Elder Iakovos: ‘Mark my words. He’s one of the most far-sighted people of our time, but he hides it to avoid being praised’…

He lived for the Divine Liturgy, which he celebrated every day, with fear and trembling, dedicated and, literally, elevated. Young children and those with pure hearts saw him walking above the floor, or being served by holy angels. As he himself told a few people, he served together with Cherubim, Seraphim and the Saints. During the Preparation, he saw Angels of the Lord taking the portions of those being remembered and placing them before the throne of Christ, as prayers. When, because of health problems he felt weak, he would pray before the start of the Divine Liturgy and say: ‘Lord, as a man I can’t, but help me to celebrate’. After that, he said, he celebrated ‘as if he had wings’.
One of the characteristic aspects of his life was his relationship with the saints. He lived with them, talked to them and saw them. He had an impressive confidence towards them, particularly Saint David and Saint John the Russian, whom he literally considered his friends. ‘I whisper something in the ear of the Saint and he gets me a direct line to the Lord’.

One of his best known virtues was charity. Time and again he gave to everybody, depending on their needs. He could tell which of the visitors to the monastery were in financial difficulties. He’d ask to speak to them in private, give them money and ask them not to tell anyone. He never wanted his charitable acts to become known.

Another gift he had was that, through the prayers of Saint David, he was able to expel demons. He would read the prayers of the Church, make the sign of the Cross with the precious skull of the saint over the people who were suffering and the latter were often cleansed.

He was a wonderful spiritual guide, and through his counsel thousands of people returned to the path of Christ. He loved his children more than himself. It was during confession that you really appreciated his sanctity. He never offended or saddened anyone. He was justly known as ‘Elder Iakovos the sweet’.

He suffered a number of painful illnesses. One of his sayings was, ‘Lucifer’s been given permission to torment my body’. And ‘God’s given His consent for my flesh, which I’ve worn for seventy-odd years, to be tormented for one reason alone: that I may be humbled’. The last of the trials of his health was a heart condition which was the result of some temptation he’d undergone.

He always had the remembrance of death and of the coming judgement. Indeed, he foresaw his death. He asked an Athonite hierodeacon whom he had confessed on the morning of November 21, the last day of his earthly life, to remain at the monastery until the afternoon, in order to dress him. While he was confessing, he stood up and said: ‘Get up, son. The Mother of God, Saint David, Saint John the Russian and Saint Iakovos have just come into the cell’. ‘What are they here for, Elder?’ ‘To take me, son’. At that very moment, his knees gave way and he collapsed. As he’d foretold, he departed ‘like a little bird’. With a breath like that of a bird, he departed this world on the day of the Entry of the Mother of God. He made his own entry into the kingdom of God. It was 4:17 in the afternoon.
His body remained supple and warm, and the shout which escaped the lips of thousands of people: ‘Saint! You’re a saint’, bore witness to the feelings of the faithful concerning the late Elder Iakovos. Now, after his blessed demise, he intercedes for everyone at the throne of God, with special and exceptional confidence. Hundreds of the faithful can confirm that he’s been a benefactor to them.

Modified from ” “The Elder of love, forgiveness and discernment”, by Alexandros Christodoulou.


Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, the Long-Range Star of Evia, By Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias

The Entrance of St. Elder Iakovos of Evia lover of hesychia and ascese, into the Holy of Holies

Holy Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia reposed in the Lord on November 21 on the Feast of Hesychasm in the Entrance of the Theotokos

“Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, the Long-Range Star of Evia

By Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias,
Great Hymnographer of the Church of Alexandria

Γέροντας Ιάκωβος της Εύβοιας_ St. elder Iakovos of Evia_Старец Иаков (Тсаликис) Эвбейский -gerondas_Iakovos4The venerable Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, the admirable Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia, was a long-range star who shined in our days with the rays of his simplicity, his goodness, his equal-to-the-angels state and his numerous wonders.

Elder Iakavos was the personification of love, a living embodiment of “the new life in Christ”, a projector of virtue and a mirror of humility and temperance.

He embodied and experienced the testament of grace and delighted all those who approached him, since he was entirely the “fragrance of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15). With his sweet words he gave them rest and conveyed to them the good things of the Holy Spirit, “joy, peace and gentleness” (Gal. 5:22), with which he was gifted, affirming the Gospel phrase: “Out of the abundance of the heart the tongue speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

Elder Iakovos was a spiritual figure of the Monastery of the Venerable David, sent by the philanthropic Lord to the modern lawless Israel and admonished them with the example of his simple yet venerable life and the grace of his words which were always “seasoned with salt” (Gal. 4:6). The Elder was not very educated, but he was overshadowed, like the fishermen of Galilee, with the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, making wise the unwise and moving the lips of those chosen by God to spiritually guide the people to salvation.

Elder Iakovos was born on November 5, 1920 to pious parents, his mother Theodora being from Livisi in Asia Minor and his father Stavros from Rhodes. In early 1922 Turkish cetes captured his father and led him deep into Anatolia.
After the catastrophe of our blessed Asia Minor, which was allowed by God for our sins and apostasy, the family of the Elder followed the hard road of exile. Their ship transferred them over to Itea and from there they settled in Amfissa.

There it pleased the Lord, in 1925, for his father to find them and together as a family they moved to Farakla in Evia.

At the age of seven the young divinely-illumined Iakovos memorized the Divine Liturgy even though he was illiterate. In 1927 he attended elementary school and was distinguished for his performance and his obvious love for the Church and sacred writings.

The appearance of Saint Paraskevi to the young Iakovos and the revelation of his brilliant ecclesiastical future stimulated the faith and piety of the young student.

Often the purity of his life led him to pray for his suffering countrymen, whom he would heal by reading prayers that were irrelevant to their situation, but he did it with much devotion showing to all that the “grace of God was on him” (Lk. 2:40).

In 1933 he completed elementary school, but the financial difficulties of his family did not allow him to continue his studies. So he followed his father in his manual work.

Impressed by his melodious chanting the Metropolitan of Halkidos consecrated him a Reader.

What impressed everyone was his ascetic life, his prayerful disposition, his love for work, his lack of sleep, and his strict observance of the fasts.

In this voluntary personal deprivation he came to add the involuntary suffering of the whole family and that of all the hapless refugees from the dispossession.

In July of 1942 the mother of the Elder died, foretelling his future as a priest. He joined the army in 1947, where he remained undaunted by the derision of his colleagues, who jokingly called him “Father Iakovos”.

However, he received admiration from his commander, who was among the few that sensed the future bright spiritual path of the young refugee.

After being released from the army in 1949, Iakovos, at the age of 29, was orphaned also of a father. His focus was on his sister, without, however, neglecting the thoughts of his childhood desire to enter the monastic state.

After his sister married, in November of 1952 he went to the Monastery of the Venerable David near Rovies, fulfilling his desire of completely dedicating his life to God. At the age of 32 Iakovos was tonsured a Monk, and on December 19, 1952 he was ordained a Priest in Halkida by Metropolitan Gregory.

He then continued his ascetic life in the Monastery, with concerted prayer in the cave of the Venerable David, with divine visions and miracles, which increased over time.

He achieved high measures in virtue and suffered many attacks from good-hating demons, who hated his equal-to-the-angels life.

He often saw and spoke with Venerable David and Saint John the Russian, while he was also made worthy of the gifts of foresight and insight.

Often during the Divine Liturgy he would see Angels serving him in the Sacred Altar, Cherubim and Seraphim encircling him covering their faces with their six wings, revering the slain Lamb, the God-man Jesus, on the Holy Paten, broken but not divided, forever eaten yet never consumed.

In August of 1963 in a wondrous way he satiated with three kilos of noodles 75 laborers with generous servings with half a pot of leftovers.

On the 25th of June in 1975 he became the Abbot of the Monastery and held this rudder firmly until his venerable repose on the 21st of November in 1991.

Due to his hermit and ascetic life, however, the health of the Elder was shaken, the veins of his legs rotted, and he had to undergo surgeries for his hernia, his appendix, his prostrate and his heart, even being placed within him a pacemaker.

Γέροντας Ιάκωβος της Εύβοιας_ St. elder Iakovos of Evia_Старец Иаков (Тсаликис) Эвбейский -Elder Iakovos (1)From 1990 onwards his strength began to leave him. In September of 1991 he was hospitalized at the General State Hospital of Athens for a small infarction.

When he returned to the Monastery he suffered from inflammation, which, unfortunately, turned into pneumonia. He sensed his end.

The morning of November 21, 1991 he followed the Service for the Entrance of our Theotokos, he chanted and he communed of the Immaculate Mysteries.

After confessing some of the faithful he took a walk around the Monastery. In the afternoon he confessed a spiritual daughter of his and waited for the return of his novice Iakovos from Limni, who that day was ordained a Deacon by the Metropolitan of Halkidos.

As soon as the fathers arrived the Elder tried to get up, but became dizzy. His breathing became heavy, his pulse weakened and from his lips came a soft blow.

The Elder took the road to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The people who were informed of his funeral were few.

The phones, however, took fire and from one person to another the sad news spread.

The next day thousands of people flocked to the Monastery, clergy of all ranks and spiritual children of the Elder from all over Greece, who came to give their last embrace.

The courtyard of the Monastery was crowded. The funeral service was chanted outdoors and after his sacred body was processed around the Katholikon. During the procession many of the faithful saw the Elder get up from his coffin to bless the crowd.

Once the sacred body descended into the grave, with one voice the thousands of faithful with resurrection hymns and resurrection bells joyfully cried out: “Saint! Saint!”

Since then Elder Iakovos, with his dozens of posthumous miracles, has been classified in the souls of the faithful as a Saint, by those who await with longing his formal canonization by the Mother Church.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2014/11/elder-iakovos-tsalikis-long-range-star.html

Apolytikion St.Elder Iakovos of Evia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone

In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Father; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Iakovus, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

 


The Mother of God in the Holy of Holies met God, because God is met in the depths of our heart. Fr Zacharias Zacharou

Entrance of the Theotokos into the Holy of Holies
Feast of the Hesychastic monasticism

Commemorated on November 21

”The Mother of God made two discoveries in the temple. In praying, she suddenly discovered her “deep heart,” and her unity with the rest of mankind, and she began to intercede for the whole world in the Holy of Holies at a very young age.” 

Fr Zacharias Zacharou (disciple of Fr. Sophrony of Essex)

Εισόδια της Θεοτόκου_Entrance of the Theotokos_Введение во храм Пресвятой Богородицы_i400 (1)How did Christ reveal this way upon earth? He revealed it by coming down from heaven to earth, and even more so, by going down to the nethermost parts of the earth (cf. Eph. 4:10). That is to say, His way is a humble way. He is a humble God (cf. Matt. 11:29)… God showed His love to man by disclosing the Way of His Son upon earth; and man, in his turn, shows his love to God when he follows this Way, which is the way of humility.

…I will give you another example about the way of the Lord, nearer to His incarnation, which has to do with His Mother, the Most Holy Virgin Mary. She was dedicated to the temple of God from a very young age, and in that temple the Mother of God lived in prayer and under instruction in the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. And the Mother of God made two discoveries in the temple. In praying, she suddenly discovered her “deep heart,” as we learn from holy Tradition. This, however, may also be seen in the verses of the New Testament. According to the definition of the Old Testament, “man is a deep heart” (cf. Ps. 64:6). And this deep heart of man, as King Solomon says, requires a divine and noetic sensation, the sensation of God (cf. Prov. 15:14 Lxx). So, the Mother of God found the “deep heart” through her humble prayer. In fact, when she found her “deep heart,” there she met God, because God is met in the depths of our heart.

Then she discovered a second thing: her unity with the rest of mankind, and she began to intercede for the whole world in the Holy of Holies at a very young age. While she was instructed in the Prophets by the priests of the temple, she read the text of Isaiah which says, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” God with us (Isa. 7:14), the passage we read every year at Christmas; and by the grace of God, her whole being was ignited by those words, and she began praying from that moment in this way: “Oh God of my Fathers, make me worthy to be the servant of that woman who will bring Immanuel to the world.” And in the fervency of this humble prayer, to become the servant of the mother of Immanuel, the Archangel Gabriel appears and says to her, “Not the servant, but the mother.” That is why she says that God “hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden” (Luke 1:48). So, why did that happen? Because the Mother of God, prophetically, put herself in the Way of the Lord, and fulfilled, prophetically, the law which her Son was to give – that “those who will humble themselves shall be exalted” (cf. Matt. 23:12) – she was exalted most highly, above the Cherubim and Seraphim. Because she placed herself prophetically in the Way of the Lord – and the Way is the Lord – the Lord was united with her, and became her Son. So we see how important it is to know the Way of the Lord.

…If there is anything about monasticism that is beneficial to the Church, it is precisely that it preserves upon earth this great science of God, which initiates man into the Way of the Lord, the way by which he learns to “go down.” All monastic life is organized in such a way so as to impart unto us the spirit of this way of “going down.”

I remember that when I became a priest and spiritual father, Fr. Sophrony, our father founder, said to me, “Don’t be afraid to encourage young people to learn to ‘go down,’ because it is the only way for them to overcome their passions.” We have to learn this way otherwise we cannot become passionless, we cannot fulfill the commandment of God, who said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). We have to learn this perfection in order to mirror, to reflect upon earth, the perfection of our Heavenly Father. This perfection was manifested in the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we are all called to be imitators of our Lord. And if monasticism is justified, it is justified in this way: that it is a science that teaches people the way of “going down.”

The texts entitled “Monasticism” (The Science of “Going Down”), by Archimandrite Zacharias, The Enlargement of the Heart (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2006

Apolytikion Entrance of the Theotokos in the Fourth Tone

Today is the prelude of God’s pleasure and the proclamation of man’s salvation. The Virgin is clearly made manifest in the temple of God and foretells Christ to all. Let us also cry out to her with mighty voice, “Hail, fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation.”


Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), Archimandrite Zacharias

Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)

by Archimandrite Zacharias

For us Christians there is nothing beyond Christ. He is for us the absolute God and the perfect man. As He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and so it is very important for us to know this Way, Truth and Life. The Way is Christ Himself, and if we know the way and put ourselves on the way, He becomes our fellow traveler, our companion, because He is the way, binding Himself to us, as He joined Luke and Cleopas on the way to Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:15). He is Truth itself, both divine and human, and when we know this truth we become truthful in two ways. In the first place, we know the Truth which is Christ Himself, whom we worship in Spirit and truth (cf. John 4:24); and, at the same time, we begin to know the truth about ourselves, the truth of our total poverty, thus we stand before Him in awe and reverence, and we perform our service to Him. He is also Life itself (John 11:25; 14:6), and without knowing this gift of the life that He brought upon earth we remain desolate; as He said, we “die in our sins” (cf. John 8:24). Nevertheless, if we know His gift, then we know that is the gift of life, and, indeed of life in abundance (cf. John 10:10). So, Christ is the Way, and it is vital for us to know this Way.

How did Christ reveal this way upon earth? He revealed it by coming down from heaven to earth, and even more so, by going down to the nethermost parts of the earth (cf. Eph. 4:10). That is to say, His way is a humble way. He is a humble God (cf. Matt. 11:29), and he knows how to “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), because as God He has power to take it up again.
You know, we have all been created “in the image and likeness” of God (Gen. 1:26). God instilled in us the capacity of knowing Him, and of knowing Him fully. He gave us the ability to receive the evangelical revelation, which was to come in His only-begotten Son. From the very beginning, He implanted in us that capacity, by creating us in His image and likeness. But, of course, we know the tragic event that took place, man’s falling away from the living presence of God. But God did not abandon man, and man, within his very being, never forgot that his origins were in God: he has always possessed the innate desire for justice, for equality, for freedom of spirit. Yet, through the tragic event of the Fall, we see in our empirical being that there is no justice, there is no equality, there is no freedom of spirit.
And this monstrous empirical being, which is our world, has the appearance of a pyramid. We have the powerful of the earth sitting at the top of the pyramid on the shoulders of those beneath them; there is no equality, and the strong exercise dominion over the weak. But this is not the idea of God. God wanted us all to be equal, and that is why He gave us all the same commandments. That is the sign of our equality before God; and each one of us must apply them to his own life, but He gave the same commandments to us all. So, we are faced with this monstrous pyramid of the empirical being of this world, the powerful of the earth exercising authority, as the Lord says (cf. Matt. 20:25), and they are even called benefactors. But He said to the twelve, “If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). So the Lord, in order to heal this distortion of the world, as Fr. Sophrony says, inverted the pyramid, and at the head of it He put Himself. He went down to the bottom of it, that is to say, He went to the abyss of the fall of man, and took upon Himself the “burden” of the whole world, the entire weight of the pyramid.

From that moment on, who could stand in judgment before Him? He justified God, but He also justified man. He justified God by showing His love – love “unto the end” (John 13:1), that “greater love” that no one has as He does, as the Lord says in the Gospel (John 15:13)…Who can enter into judgment with God from that time forward? He did not spare His only-begotten Son, but gave Him for us. Will He not give everything to us together with Him, says the Apostle? (cf. Rom. 8:32)… The way He revealed upon earth, the way of “going down,” the way of descent. He showed this to be the Way, and in doing so He justified man, He gave him an example. If man follows His way, then God the Father will receive him as His son, and God will repeat to every person the same words He spoke to His own Son, “Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee” (Heb. 5:5), and “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17, 17:5). 

God showed His love to man by disclosing the Way of His Son upon earth; and man, in his turn, shows his love to God when he follows this Way, which is the way of humility.

The texts entitled “Monasticism” (The Science of “Going Down”), by Archimandrite Zacharias, The Enlargement of the Heart (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2006


Divine intervention is needed. Take care not to be caught unprepared… Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

ΔΕΗΣΗ_Деисус,_4d97e72a642fdb342839213bfcdb646cWakefulness and sobriety are needed. All that a person does he must do for the sake of God. Christ must be at the source of every movement. Much attention is required, for when we do something with the aim of pleasing others we gain no benefit.
We ascend to the heavens not through earthly striving but by humbling ourselves spiritually. He who goes low goes sure and never falls. Ours is an age of sensationalism and hullabaloo. But the spiritual life is not noisy. Divine enlightenment is required and when it’s not there the person abides in darkness.

There was a time when the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us the way. A grand business! Today it finds no reason to descend to us. Difficult years are ahead. The Old Testament Tower of Babel was child’s play compared with our age.

***

It’s possible that you’ll live through much which is described in the Book of Revelations. Much is coming to the surface, little by little. The situation is horrible. Madness has gone beyond all bounds. Apostasy is upon us, and now the only thing left is for the ‘son of perdition’ (2 Thess. 2:3) to come.

The world has turned into a madhouse A great confusion will reign, in which each government will begin to do whatever comes into its head. We’ll see how the most unlikely, the most insane, events will happen. The only good thing is that these events will happen in very quick succession.

Ecumenism, common markets, a one-world government, a single made-to-order religion: such is the plan of these devils. The Zionists are already preparing their messiah. For them the false-messiah will be king, will rule here, on earth.

A great discord will arise. In this discord everyone will clamor for a king to save them. At that moment they’ll offer up their man, who’ll say: “I’m the Imam, I’m the fifth Buddha, I’m the Christ whom Christians are awaiting. I’m the one whom the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been waiting for. I’m the Jewish messiah.”

***

Difficult times are ahead. Great trials await us. Christians will suffer great persecutions. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that people don’t understand that we’re on the verge of the end times, that the seal of the Antichrist is becoming a reality. As if nothing’s happening. That’s why Holy Scripture says that even the chosen will be deceived.

The Zionists want to rule the earth. To achieve their ends they use black magic and satanism. They regard satan-worship as a means to gain the strength they need to carry out their plans. They want to rule the earth using satanic power. God is not something they take into account.

One sign that the fulfillment of prophecy is near will be the destruction of the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem. They’ll destroy it in order to restore the Temple of Solomon which used to be on the same place. In the end the Jews will pronounce the Antichrist messiah in this rebuilt temple.
The rabbis know that the true Messiah has already come and that they crucified Him. They know this, and yet they are blinded by egoism and fanaticism.

***

ΔΕΗΣΗ_Деисус,___200324_17606942Providence tells me that the Antichrist wants to subjugate the world using this system. It will be foisted upon people with the help of the mechanisms which control the world economy, for only those who receive the mark, an image with the number ‘666’, will be able to take part in economic life.. Little by little, after the introduction of ID cards with the three sixes, after the creation of a personal dossier, they’ll use cunning to introduce the mark. 

I see that something is in the works, that something lies just around the corner, but it’s constantly being put off. Little delays all the time. Who’s creating the delays? God? Another month passes, then another couple of months! That’s how it all goes. But since we know what awaits us, let’s develop love in ourselves, to the degree that we can. That’s the main thing: for true brotherly love to exist between us. Kindness, love — that’s strength!

***

Our time is like a bubbling and steaming cauldron. One needs temperament, audacity, courage. Take care not to be caught unprepared, if something is to happen. Start getting ready now so that you’ll be able to resist difficulties. Christ Himself tells us: “Therefore be ye also ready” (Matt. 24:44), doesn’t He? Today, living in such complicated times, we have to be not merely ready, but triply ready, at the minimum!

No matter what happens, we must continue to pray, think and act. It’s best to always stand up to a difficult situation using spiritual means.

God expects patience, prayer and struggle from us.

We have to pray a lot, and with pain in our hearts, so that God will intervene: our times are very hard to understand. A lot of ash, rubbish, and indifference has accumulated, and a strong wind will be needed to blow it all away.

Divine intervention is needed: Great upheavals are happening. What a bedlam! The minds of whole nations are in confusion. But in spite of the ferment I feel a certain consolation inside, a certain confidence. God still dwells in a part of the Christians. God’s people, people of prayer, still remain, and God in his all-goodness still tolerates us and will put everything in order. Don’t be afraid! We’ve gone through many storms, and still haven’t perished. So should we be afraid of the storm which is now gathering? We’ll not perish this time either!

In order to hold back a great evil, great holiness is needed. A spiritual person can hold back evil and help others. In the spiritual life the biggest coward can attain great courage by entrusting himself to Christ and His divine help. He can go to the front lines, do battle with the enemy, and win! So therefore we will fear God alone, not people, no matter how evil they may be. The fear of God makes any coward into a hero! A person becomes fearless to the extent he unites with God.

Knowing the truth, a person will begin to mull things over and shake himself out of his sleep. What’s going on will begin to cause him pain. He’ll begin to pray and to be on his guard, so as to not fall into that trap.

Kontakion (Plagal of the Fourth Tone)

O Champion General I your City now inscribe to you triumphant anthems as the tokens of my gratitude, being rescued from the terrors, O Theotokos. But since you have the dominion unassailable, from all kinds of perils free me so that unto you, I may cry aloud: Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.


”Lord, help me to preserve my inner peace…” Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

November 18
Repose of Schema-archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) of Glinsk and Tbilisi (1992).

Archbishop Andrei (Gvazava) of Samtavisi and Gori (Georgian Orthodox Church) says about Fr. Vitaly: ”I would like to tell about his amazing love and humility. He was ready to give his life for another. If he had to do it in a moment, he would do it—without a thought, he would give his life for the salvation of a human soul, with great humility and dedication to God’s will. This is what I remember most of all about Fr. Vitaly. He loved Georgia very much. He always said to his spiritual children, “Come to Georgia! It is a holy land.” He especially loved monastics; he loved them with particular warmth and tenderness.”

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica
How to Have Inner Peace

Θαδδαίος της Βιτόβνιτσα_Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica_Старец Фаддей Витовницкий_Отац Тадеј Штрбуловић_1910048.b1. We must give ourselves over to the Lord. We must commit ourselves and all that we have to Him, for He is ever present. He wants us to be quiet and at peace, with no thoughts at all. This means that the heart must keep silence. The Holy Fathers tell us that our nous must descend into the heart. That is where our nous should be, without any thoughts or imaginings. The Holy Fathers further say that we must occupy the nous with the Jesus Prayer. Let our minds always be saying the Jesus Prayer, for He is always present, and let us always be in communion with Him.

2. We know that the Lord, while in the flesh, was kind to all people, even those who persecuted Him—Him, the Almighty God. He showed us how to avoid evil and not oppose it. He said so Himself (cf. Matt. 5:39). Not opposing evil means preserving one’s inner peace. Opposing evil is evil; it involves a desire to return evil for evil, which is what the fallen spirits thrive on. However, when they attack us and find that we do not oppose them, then our peacefulness disarms them and they are defeated. Therefore we must try to always pray like this: “Lord, help me to preserve my inner peace, teach me how to be calm and peaceful and kind, just like Thine angels.” In order to be able to do this, we must be with the Lord constantly in our thoughts. You see, we direct all our thoughts and all our attention to those whom we love. This is exactly how we should be toward God, for as our Parent, He rightfully asks that we give back to Him what He has given us. This is for our own good, in order that we may participate in Divine joy, peace, and life. Let us, therefore, learn to turn to God and seek Him ceaselessly through prayer.

We have very little faith in the Lord, very little trust. If we trusted the Lord as much as we trust a friend when we ask him to do something for us, neither we as individuals nor our whole country would suffer so much.