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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, 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.”


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.


The internal peace and lack of malice of St. Gregory the Miracle-Worker. St. Seraphim of Sarov

St Gregory the Wonderworker of Neocaesarea

Commemorated on November 17

St. Seraphim of Sarov
The Spiritual World

ΓΡΗΓΟΡΙΟΣ ΘΑΥΜΑΤΟΥΡΓΟΣ_Григорий ЧудотворецΓΡΗΓΟΡΙΟΣ ΘΑΥΜΑΤΟΥΡΓ

The spiritual world is gained by sorrows. The scriptures say: “We went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” (Ps. 66:12). For those who desire to serve God the path lies through many sorrows. How can we praise the holy martyrs for the sufferings which they bore for God, when we cannot even bear a fever?

Nothing so aids the acquiring of internal peace as silence, and as much as is possible, continual discussion with oneself and rarely with others.

A sign of spiritual life is the immersion of a person within himself and the hidden workings within his heart.

This peace, as some priceless treasure, did our Lord Jesus Christ leave his followers before His death, saying, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). The apostle also spoke this about it: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7); “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

In this way, we must direct all our thoughts, desires and actions toward obtaining God’s peace, and always cry out with the Church: “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us” (Is. 26:12).

It is necessary by all means to try to keep one’s spiritual peace, and not to become provoked by insults from others. To do this, it is necessary always to restrain oneself from anger, and by careful watch to guard the mind and heart from unclean waverings.

Insults from others must be borne without disturbance; one must train oneself to be of such a nature, that one can react to insults as if they did not refer to oneself. Such an exercise can bring serenity to our heart and make it a dwelling of God Himself.

We see an example of such a lack of malice in the life of St. Gregory the Miracle-Worker. A certain immoral woman demanded payment from him, purportedly for a sin committed with her. He, not in the least angry with her, humbly said to one of his friends: pay her the price which she demands, quickly. The woman became possessed as soon as she accepted the unrighteous payment. The bishop then prayed and exorcised the evil spirit from her.

If it is impossible not to become indignant, then at least restrain your tongue according to the words of the Psalmist: “I am so troubled that I cannot speak” (Ps. 77:4).

The Blessed Ephraim, living in the desert, was once deprived of food in the following fashion. His pupil, carrying the food, accidentally broke the vessel on the way. Blessed Ephraim, seeing the pupil downcast, said to him: “Do not grieve, brother. If the food did not want to come to us, then we will go to it.” And so the monk went, sat next to the broken vessel, and, gathering the food together, ate it. He was thus without malice!

In order to keep spiritual peace it is also necessary to avoid judging others in any way. Condescension towards your neighbor and silence protect spiritual peace. When a person is in such an state, then he receives Godly revelations. 

In order not to lapse into judgment of others, it is necessary to be mindful of oneself, to refuse to receive any bad information from anyone and to be as if dead to others.

For the protection of spiritual peace it is necessary to enter into oneself more often and ask: Where am I? In addition, it is necessary to watch that the physical senses, especially sight, serve the inner person, not diverting the soul with mortal items, because the gifts of grace are received only by those who have inner workings and keep watch over their souls.

From the Teachings of St. Seraphim of Sarov

Troparion St Gregory the Wonderworker of Neocaesarea — Tone 8

You became worthy of your name through your way of life: through your vigilance in prayer and your constant works of mercy. Therefore, O Father Gregory, beseech Christ God to enlighten our minds, that we may not sleep in sin, which leads to death!

Ikos 9
Let us stay aboard the great ship of the Church, for Jesus Christ will steer us through all storms, dangers, conflicts, afflictions, infirmities, darkness and foreboding. Let us follow in the humility of Saint Seraphim, and therein we shall behold the glory of God which overcomes all adversity and rewards all suffering for His Name. In simplicity of soul and with the faith of the fathers, we rightfully praise our holy teacher, Saint Seraphim:
Rejoice, compass who points the way to inward peace.
Rejoice, elder who directs mankind to things divine.
Rejoice, courageous star who shines in the gloomy skies.
Rejoice, monk whose prayers illuminate the longest night.
Rejoice, gentle wind who stirs the faithful to prayer.
Rejoice, righteous gale who renders the demons asunder.
Rejoice, holy protector of those who give their whole being to God.
Rejoice, blessed guardian of those who let nothing impede their service to others.
Rejoice, merciful intercessor for those who persevere under misfortune.
Rejoice, faithful companion of those who quickly repent of wrongs.
Rejoice, beautiful aid to those who live according to Scripture.
Rejoice, gracious preservation of those who run with patience.
Rejoice, Saint Seraphim, spiritual father of all the faithful.

From an Akathist Hymn to Saint Seraphim of Sarov


St. Herman of Alaska treated the temptations, the persecution and the great sorrows with personal holiness

St. Paisius Velichkovsky (1794)
St. Herman of Alaska (1836)

Commemorated on November 15, December 13/25, and July 27/August 8

Pavle Patriarch of Serbia
Reposed on 15 November 2009

“From this day, from this hour, from this minute,
let us strive to love God above all,
and to fulfill His holy will!”
Saint Herman of Alaska

Γερμανός της Αλάσκας_Saint Herman of Alaska_Преподобный Герман Аляскинский_61d31aef7208ba8ccc1cacfed85f8ad7In St. Herman we recognize the beloved figure of the true Orthodox monk, a man of peace in the midst of terrible violence, the monk Herman grants us the image of the truly Christian response to the violence and spiritual collapse of our own age.

Grigory Shelikhov, a fur-trader, subjugated the native population of Kodiak Island ; and, with Ivan Golikov, he founded a fur-trading company which eventually received a monopoly from the Imperial government. This monopoly became the Russian-American Company. Grigory Shelikhov founded a school for the natives, of whom many were converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity.
With the opening of these islands, there was also revealed the sacred necessity to illumine with the light of the Gospel the native inhabitants. It was Grigory Shelikhov, the founder of the Kodiak Island settlement, who invited the first Russian Orthodox missionaries to the New World.
The members of this historical mission were : Archimandrite Joasaph (Bolotoff) ; the Hieromonks Juvenaly, Makary, Athanasy, Stephan and Nektary ; the Hierodeacons, Nektary and Stephan ; and the Monks Joasaph and Herman. The missionaries departed from Saint Petersburg in December 21, 1793 and they arrived on Kodiak Island on September 24, 1794, having travelled 7,300 miles in 293 days. Upon arrival, the monks were shocked at conditions in the colony.

Herman and the other missionaries encountered a harsh reality at Kodiak that did not correspond to Shelikhov’s rosy descriptions. The native Kodiak population, called “Americans” by the Russian settlers, were subject to harsh treatment by the Russian-American Company, which was being overseen by Shelikhov’s manager Alexander Baranov who later became the first governor of the colony. The men were forced to hunt for sea otter even during harsh weather, and women and children were abused. The monks were also shocked at the widespread alcoholism in the Russian population, and the fact that most of the settlers had taken native mistresses. The monks themselves were not given the supplies that Shelikhov promised them, and had to till the ground with wooden implements. Within a few weeks, the leader of the mission, Archimandrite Joasaph (Bolotov) was sending vivid reports of abuse back to Shelikov, believing that Shelikov would intervene. Receiving no reply, Joasaph, the priest-monk Makary, and the deacon Stephen returned to Russia in 1798 to report firsthand about Baranov’s outrageous actions. On their return to Alaska, their ship sank, and all aboard perished (1799). In retaliation for such continuing “interference,” Baranov placed the remaining monks under house arrest, forbidding them any further contact with the native peoples (1800). Despite these difficulties, the monks managed to baptize over 7,000 natives in the Kodiak region, and set about building a church and monastery. Herman was assigned in the bakery and acted as the mission’s steward (ekonom).

The monks became the defenders of the native Kodiak population. Herman was especially noted for his zeal in protecting them from the excessive demands of the RAC, and Baranov disparaged him in a letter as a “hack writer and chatterer.” A contemporary historian compares him to Bartolomé de las Casas, the Roman Catholic friar who defended the rights of native South Americans against the Spanish.

After over a decade spent in Alaska, Herman became the head of the mission in 1807, although he was not ordained to the priesthood. The local population loved and respected him, However, to avoid harassment (and possible assassination at the hands of Baranov’s men), the monk Herman left Kodiak sometime between 1808-1818, and he soon retired from active duty in the mission and moved to Spruce Island. Those who seek such solitude do so not because they are anti-social, but rather because their love for our Saviour is so deep, focussed and intense, that they wish to be able to live in the Presence of this love of Christ, and in loving and obedient communion with our Saviour. They wish to have minimal interruptions. As we see with Starets Herman, and with other such hermits, their love for the Lord is expressed in a multitude of ways in their relationships with human beings and with all God’s creatures.

Γερμανός της Αλάσκας_Saint Herman of Alaska_Преподобный Герман Аляскинский_St. Herman of Alaska2… The self-condemning anger of these people rose against him, made all kinds of difficulties for him, and slandered him. The slanders were so powerful that often people of good will could not detect the lies in their accusations against Father Herman, so well were these accusations covered by external correctness. You would have to say that it was the Lord Himself who preserved the Elder. Even Yanovsky, before he had seen Father Herman, wrote to St. Petersburg about the necessity of the Elder’s being removed: [false] report was given to him, that he was agitating the Aleuts against their authority. A priest from Irkutsk caused Father Herman much sorrow, and wanted to send him away to Irkutsk, but a governor of the colonies, Matthew Ivanovich Muraviev, defended the Elder.

Another priest, M., came to Spruce Island (1820) with the colonial governor N., and company employees to make an investigation of the cell of Father Herman, assuming they would find rich possessions there. When they did not find anything of value the employee Ponomarkov, evidently with the permission of superiors, began to pull out floorboards with an axe. “My friend,” Father Herman then said to him, “In vain hast thou taken this axe, this very tool which will deprive you of your life!” After a certain period of time men were needed for the Nikolaev redoubt and several Russian employees were sent there from Kodiak. In their number was Ponomarkov and there, at the redoubt, the Kenai natives chopped his head off with an axe when he was asleep…Following Baranov’s death in 1818, social and economic life in Russian Alaska stabilized. The administrator of the colony, Ferdinand von Wrangell, meets St. Herman in Kodiak in 1831; the persecution ends.

The personal example of the monk Herman provided the natives with tangible evidence that the Gospel, when embraced with full dedication and commitment, produced God-like men. He brought his whole monastic spiritual formation, rich experience and Orthodox inheritance to bear upon this new life. With burning love and compassion he began to deposit within the hearts of all who came, something of the wondrous Christian treasure that had been entrusted to him. He labored for the most part alone at this stage of his life, pressing forward with great patience and humility. He chanted the church services, contemplated the Scripture, the writings of the Philokalia and other writings of the Saints which he had brought to the New World and pursued an intense life of interior prayer. Most importantly, through his kindness, compassion and personal holiness, Herman exemplified an ideal Christian life.

Little Russian Philokalia, vol. III: St. Herman. Platina, CA: St. Herman of Alaska Press. 1988.
http://orthodoxcanada.ca/Saint_Herman_of_Alaska
http://www.orthodoxporttownsend.com/stherman.htm

Γερμανός της Αλάσκας_Saint Herman of Alaska_Преподобный Герман Аляскинский_St. Herman of Alaska212 (2)

St Herman of Alaska: ”let us love God above all”
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/st-herman-of-alaska-let-us-love-god-above-all/
Saint Herman of Alaska Converser With Angels
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/saint-herman-of-alaska-converser-with-angels/
The power of Faith and Prayer of Saint Herman of Alaska
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/the-power-of-faith-and-prayer-of-saint-herman-of-alaska/

Through the prayers of Our Holy Father Herman of Alaska and Fr. Pavle Patriarch of Serbia, of all the ascetic Fathers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and hope, have mercy on us and save us!


Pavle Patriarch of Serbia ‘This is our angel, who protects and defends us.’”

St. Paisius Velichkovsky (1794)
St. Herman of Alaska (1836)

Commemorated on November 15

Pavle Patriarch of Serbia

Reposed on 15 November 2009

“Jesus Christ says: “Let thine light shine before the people. Let them see thine good deeds and celebrations of thine Lord who is in Heaven”.

“None in this noisy era spoke so softly and yet was heard so widely as he. None spoke less and yet said more. None in our delusional age confronted truth with such calmness as he.”
the Serb poet M. Betskovic about the Patriarch Pavle of Serbia

«Lord, Thou only knowest what I need;»
(Prayer of Pavle, Patriarch of Serbia)

Παύλος Σερβίας- Павел Сербский- Pavle of Serbia_patriarch-pavle3Nothing is more precious in the life of man than prayer. Prayer makes possible even the impossible. It makes easy what is hard and comfortable what is uncomfortable. Prayer is as necessary for man’s soul as is air for breathing. He who does not pray is deprived of conversation with God, and is like a fruitless tree that does not bear good fruit and will in time be cut down and thrown into the fire (Mat. 7:19).

Should your soul find solace in the sweetness of the words of a prayer, continue praying, for then your guardian angel also prays with you. Saint Nephon once saw a monastic who was praying while walking along. His prayer ascended from his mouth into the heavens like a fiery flame. The monk walked on, and an angel of the Lord also walked with him, escorting him with a fiery lance with which he fended off demons from the monk.

“Pray ceaselessly,” says the holy Apostle, “that you do not fall in temptation.” This ceaseless prayer consists not only in our ceaslessly praying, but also in a consant remembrance of God and a feeling that he is always before us, watching all of our deeds, intentions and thoughts. Therefore it is a beautiful habit to call upon the Lord from the heart and to pray briefly at every opportunity and at every task, beginning with, for example: “God help me! Lord, bless!” When we have concluded: “Glory to Thee, O Lord! I thank Thee, O Lord!” In surprising dilemmas, whatever temptation might be: “Lord, save! God, be merciful to me a sinner! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner! Holy Theotokos, save us!”

In prayer we shouldn’t work up our nerves, nor sigh too much, nor hold our head up, for all this is harmful. We should pray quietly, with deep, but silent sighs, our heads lowered to the ground, patiently, from time to time looking at the icon as those who truly feel sinful before God.

From the teachings of the humble Patriarch Pavle of Serbia, on Prayer

***

If we live as people of God, there will be room for all nations in the Balkans and in the world. If we liken ourselves to Cain, then the entire earth will be too small even for two people.”

Wisdom will preserve us from wolves, and kindness will prevent us from turning into wolves

We cannot pass through this world without suffering and hardship. The history of mankind is filled with so much devastation caused by the elements, so much misery caused by man to his fellow man.
In the Holy Scriptures, God points many times to the suffering that awaits His faithful: In the world you have tribulation….; If they persecuted me, they will persecute you: let he who wants to go with me take up his cross and follow (Jn 16:33; 15:20). The Apostle Paul also says that we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations (Acts 14:22).

Orthodoxy is a faith that is recognized by how we live it, by how we act, by how we behave ourselves. Orthodoxy is a way of life.”

***

Παύλος Σερβίας_Павел Сербский_Pavle of Serbia_-Patrijarh Srpski Pavle4974047853_c9b1623c48_bPredrag Miodrag, who knows the Patriarch well, taken from another short article about His Holiness, said the following:
“He is very accessible. When his sister was alive he frequently walked to her house by foot. He in general liked to go about by foot, without an escort. Anyone can approach him and speak with him. He receives visitors every day at his residence. People go to him with their needs and their small questions, and he finds a comforting word of consolation for each of them.
He gets up very early and, when everyone is still sleeping, he serves the Liturgy, praying for the entire Serbian people. All Serbia is in his heart. He is small in stature, but great in spirit. He has thin fingers, but when he forms these fingers into the sign of the cross legions of demons flee; he wears thin cotton vestments, but beneath these vestments is hidden the soul of a brave warrior. The people say: ‘This is our angel, who protects and defends us.’”

***

It is not without reason that Patriarch Pavle has been referred to as a “saint who walks.” The simplicity of his lifestyle and his personal humility have found favor by all of those who are familiar with this virtuous man. All of the Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church have an automobile, which they use to travel through their dioceses. The one exception has been Patriarch Pavle. When asked why he never obtained an automobile, he replies: “I will not purchase one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has an automobile.”

It is well known that the Serbian Patriarch, even when taking up his high-ranking position, continued his ascetic podvigs and strove to live modestly – although for him this was all quite natural, without any deliberate affectation. He went around town by foot or took regular public transportation among the throngs of people, was not acquisitive, and ate as little as the ancient desert fathers – simply because that was the way he was.

Mrs Jana Todorovic told me a story that concerned her sister. She was at a reception at the Patriarch’s for some reason. Discussing business, she happened to look at the Patriarch’s feet and was shocked at the sight of his shoes: they were old, had been torn and then repaired. The woman thought: “How shameful for us Serbs, that our Patriarch has to go around in broken shoes; couldn’t somehow give him some new shoes?” The Patriarch said joyfully, “Look at what good shoes I have! I found them near the garbage cans when I went to the patriarchate. Someone had thrown them away, but they are real leather. I darned them a little bit and, look, they can still serve a long time.”

Παύλος Σερβίας_Павел Сербский_Pavle of Serbia_patrijarh-pavle-2-slavol73_nAnother story is connected with these same boots. A certain woman came to the patriarchate with the request to speak with the Patriarch concerning an urgent matter, about which she needed to speak with him personally. This request was unusual and she was not immediately admitted, but the visitor’s persistence bore fruit, and an audience took place. Seeing the Patriarch, the woman said with great excitement that that night she had dreamed of the Theotokos, who told her to take money to the Patriarch so that he could buy himself new shoes. Saying this, the visitor took out an envelope full of money. Patriarch Pavle, not taking the envelope, responded affectionately, “At what time did you lay down to sleep?” The woman, surprised, asked, “Well… around eleven.” “You know, I lay down later, around four in the morning,” the Patriarch responded, “and I also dreamed of the Theotokos, who asked me to tell you to take the money and give it to those who really need it.” He did not take the money.

Yuri Maximov

***

Patriarch Pavle belonged to a different tradition. He was a mystically prayerful monk, rather than a sanguine Prince of the Church. He was a Patriarch who blended, harmoniously, three key functions of his throne: that of the father, of the priest, and of the prophet. He understood, and lived, the legacy of Prince Lazar, martyred at Kosovo in 1389: “The Kingdom on Earth is but paltry and small; yet the Kingdom of Heaven is forever and knows no bounds.

Troparion St. Herman of Alaska — Tone 7

O joyful north star of the Church of Christ, Guiding all men to the Heavenly Kingdom;Teacher and apostle of the true faith;  Intercessor and defender of the oppressed. Adornment of the Orthodox Church in America, Blessed Father Herman of Alaska, Pray to our Lord Jesus Christ For the salvation of our souls!

Troparion St.Pavle Patriarch of Serbia — Tone 4

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,  an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;  your humility exalted you;  your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Pavle,  entreat Christ our God  that our souls may be saved.

Through the prayers of Our Holy Father Herman of Alaska and Fr. Pavle Patriarch of Serbia, of all the ascetic Fathers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and hope, have mercy on us and save us!