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When we choose Christ we are carried beyond time and space, beyond the reach of what is termed ‘tragedy’. Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth. Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite

Σταυρός_Ανάσταση_Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John The Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь святого Иоанна Крестителя (Эссекс-RastignΧριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!

«Rejoice!». «Peace be unto you!»

Saint Sophrony (Sakharov) of Essex the Athonite

The tragedy of our times lies in our almost complete unawareness, or unmindfulness, that there are two kingdoms, the temporal and the eternal. We would build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, rejecting all idea of resurrection or eternity…

I first met with the notion of tragedy, not in life but in literature. The seeds of tragedy, it seemed to me in my youth, are sown when a man finds himself wholly captivated by some ideal. To attain this ideal he is ready to risk any sacrifice, any suffering, even life itself. But if he happens to achieve the object of his striving, it proves to be an impudent chimera: the reality does not correspond to what he had in mind. This sad discovery leads to profound despair, a wounded spirit, a monstrous death.

Different people have different ideals. There is the ambition for power, as with Boris Godounov. In pursuit of his aim he did not stop at bloodshed. Successful, he found that he had not got what he expected. ‘I have reached the height of power but my soul knows no happiness.’ Though the concerns of the spirit prompt a nobler quest, the genius in the realm of science or the arts sooner or later realises his inability to consummate his initial vision. Again, the logical denouement is death.

The fate of the world troubled me profoundly. Human life at whatever stage was unavoidably interlinked with suffering. Even love was full of contradictions and bitter crises. The seal of destruction lay everywhere.

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_933925640-2333I was still a young man when the tragedy of historical events far outdid anything that I had read in books. (I refer to the outbreak of the First World War, soon to be followed by the Revolution in Russia.) My youthful hopes and dreams collapsed. But at the same time a new vision of the world and its meaning opened before me. Side by side with devastation I contemplated rebirth. I saw that there was no tragedy in God. Tragedy is to be found solely in the fortunes of the man whose gaze has not gone beyond the confines of this earth. Christ Himself by no means typifies tragedy. Nor are His all-cosmic sufferings of a tragic nature. And the Christian who has received the gift of the love of Christ, for all his awareness that it is not yet complete, escapes the nightmare of all-consuming death.

Christ’s love, during the whole time that He abode with us here, was acute suffering. ‘O faithless and perverse generation,’ He cried. ‘How long shall I suffer you?’ (Matt. 17.17). He wept for Lazarus and his sisters (cf. John 11.35). He grieved over the hard-heartedness of the Jews who slew the prophets (cf. Matt. 23.37). In Gethsemane his soul was ‘exceeding sorrowful, even unto death’ and ‘his sweat was as it were drops of blood falling down to the ground’ (Matt. 26.38; Luke 22.44). He lived the tragedy of all mankind; but in Himself there was no tragedy. This is obvious from the words He spoke to His disciples perhaps only a short while before His redemptive prayer for all mankind in the Garden: ‘My peace I give unto you’ (John 14.27).

And a little further on: ‘I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16.32, 33). This is how it is with the Christian: for all his deep compassion, his tears and prayers for the world, there is none of the despair that destroys. Aware of the breath of the Holy Spirit, he is assured of the inevitable victory of Light. The love of Christ, even in the most acute stress of suffering (which I would call the ‘hell of loving’), because it is eternal is free of passion. Until we achieve supreme freedom from the passions on this earth suffering and pity may wear out the body but it will only be the body that dies. ‘Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul’ (Matt. 10.28).

We may say that even today mankind as a whole has not grown up to Christianity and continues to drag out an almost brutish existence. In refusing to accept Christ as Eternal Man and, more importantly, as True God and our Saviour- whatever the form the refusal takes, and whatever the pretext- we lose the light of life eternal. ‘Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world’ (John 17.24). There, in the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, must our mind dwell. We must hunger and thirst to enter into this wondrous Kingdom. Then we shall overcome in ourselves the sin of refusing the Father’s love as revealed to us through the Son (cf. John 8.24). When we choose Christ we are carried beyond time and space, beyond the reach of what is termed ‘tragedy’…

God reveals Himself, mainly through the heart, as Love and Light. In this light man contemplates the Gospel precepts as the reflection on earth of celestial Eternity, and the Glory of Christ as of the only-begotten of the Father- the glory the disciples saw on Mount Tabor…

Would you like to experience the grace of Christ? Then seek this grace from Him Who can bestow it. If it seems that it is not for you, since you cannot believe, my advice is to set your heart on believing and you will be able to believe. Through faith you arrive at faith. Persist in wishing for faith and it will be granted to you.

From the book: Archimandrite Sophrony, His Life is mine, Chapter 4: The Tragedy of Man. London 1977, p. 37-40.


Lord Jesus, the Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world with faith in You. And the victory that conquers the world in our faith . Saint Nikolai Velimirovič – Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

Πέτρος φυλακή άγγελος_Peter Apostle_апостолы Петр_Πέτρος 1700Veneration of the Precious Chains of the Holy and All-glorious Apostle Peter.
Martyrs Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus, brothers, their grandmother, Leonilla, and with them Neon, Turbo, and the woman, Jonilla (Vovilla), in Cappadocia (161-180).
Martyr Danax the Reader (2nd century)
Saint Romilus the Sinaite, the Hesychast of Ravenica, monk of Mount Athos and disciple of St. Gregory of Sinai, and with him Saints Nestor, Martinius, Daniel, Sisoes, Zosimas, and Gregory (1375)
Bl. Maxim of Tot’ma, Fool-for-Christ (Vologdá—1650).
New Hieromartyr Nicholas of Mytilene, Priest (1777)

Commemorated on January 16

Homily
About the victorious faith
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“And the victory that conquers the world in our faith” (I John 5:4).

ΠΕΤΡΟΣ-Peter the Apostle-Petru-Фрески Печской Патриархии, Косово, Сербия0_18208e_fe75b7f_origChrist the Lord conquered the world. That, brethren, is also our victory. The apostles conquered the world and that is our victory. The saints, virgins and martyrs conquered the world and that is our victory. Brethren, there is nothing more powerful in the world than the Christian Faith. The swords that struck this Faith became blunt and broken but the Faith remained. The kings who fought against this Faith were smothered under the anathema of crimes. The kingdoms that waged war against this Faith are destroyed. The towns that rejected this Faith lay demolished in their ruins. The heretics who corrupted this Faith perished in soul and body and under anathema departed from this world, and this Faith remained.

Brethren, when the world pursues us with its temptations: the temptation of external beauty, the temptation of riches, the temptation of pleasure, the temptation of transient glory; with what shall we resist and by what shall we be victorious if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except by this invincible Faith which knows about something better than all the wealth of this world.
When all the temptations of this world reveal the opposite side of their faces, when beauty turns into ugliness, health into sickness, riches into poverty, glory into dishonor, authority into humiliation and all blossoming physical life into filth and stench–by what shall we overcome this grief, this decay, this fifth and stench, and to preserve oneself from despair, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith which teaches us eternal and unchangeable values in the Kingdom of Christ.

When death shows its destructive power over our neighbors, over our relatives and our families, over our flowers, over our crops, over the works of our hands and, when it turns its irresistible teeth even on us, by what shall we conquer the fear of death and by what shall we unlock the doors of life, stronger than death, if not by this Faith? In truth, by nothing except this invincible Faith, which knows about the resurrection and life without death.

O Lord Jesus, the Conqueror of the world, help us also to conquer the world with faith in You.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/January15.htm

***

Saint Paisios the Athonite

“When we believe in God and have trust in His fatherly providence and concern, then we do not think of ourselves; instead we know that God is aware of our needs and looks after our problems, from the simplest to the most serious one. The only things we must want is to allow God’s love and providence to function for us. When we have this kind of faith and inner disposition, we are able to see God’s miracles––God himself––who is always close to us under all circumstances. In order to experience this we must reject any form of worldly assistance or human hope, and with a pure heart, unhesitatingly and trustfully devote our mind to God. Then the grace of Christ will fill our souls at once…
We must totally rely on God’s providence as this is the only way to be relieved of our anxiety and worries… To trust divine providence one must free himself from all worldly concerns and wait for God to look after him…. He must overcome his love for money and trust in it and then rest all his hopes on God and he cannot do both at the same time.”

***

How the elder planted Christ in a young man’s soul
Saint Paisios of Mount Athos

ΠΕΤΡΟΣ_Πέτρος φυλακή άγγελος_Peter Apostle_апостолы Петр__1f71be8069b8d59c7432da2347fb132“I was a law student,” recalls Monk Paisios, “and I visited the Elder on August 22, 1988, with a classmate of mine named Gregory. It was my first visit to the Holy Mountain. People I knew had urged me to go, because I was estranged from the Church. I went mostly for what you might call ‘spiritual tourism,’ but I also wanted to prove to the Elder that there is no God and that he had wasted all his years as a monk.

How the elder planted Christ in a young man’s soul“We arrived at Panagouda around four o’clock in the afternoon and found about thirty-five people waiting. They rang the bell persistently, but the Elder didn’t come. We went around to the back, but it was locked. I don’t know what happened inside me, but there―for the first time in twelve years of living without the mysteries of the Church―I knelt down and prayed. I said, ‘My God, if You really exist and You want me to believe, make the Elder come and talk to us about You.’

“Not even five minutes passed before the Elder emerged from the woods and slowly approached us with a serene look and a very sweet smile.

‘Father Paisios?’ I asked with emotion.

‘What do you want Father Paisios for?’ he replied.

‘To give him these socks and to get his blessing.’

‘Bend down, so I can bless you,’ he said to me.

“Not since my baptism had I received that kind of blessing. He laid his hand on my head and prayed for about five minutes.

“Later he took us to the yard outside his cell, and we sat on the logs. He spoke about God and world events as though he had heard the latest news reports, all the while offering us lots of lumps of delight.

“In the meantime, two guys who looked like anarchists arrived, and the Elder continued his talk. He also spoke to us about Buddhism, gradually, like a doctor, removing the thorns that had been embedded in me―I had done yoga for an hour a day for the past few years.

“After an hour of discussion, he turned to me and asked, ‘Do you want to become my disciple?’ ‘No, Father,’ I answered, ‘I’m just not suited to this kind of thing: I love the world.’ He asked the question several more times during my visit, but unfortunately I was so far away from spiritual things at the time that I couldn’t grasp the magnificence of his proposal.

“Afterward he left us to go and stack some chopped wood. We said that we would help him, but he refused, saying that he did it for asceticism and that it was his obedience.

“For about fifteen minutes, we four spiritual tourists didn’t speak to each other. The Elder’s words had made an impression on us. With everything he said he removed my doubts about the existence of the Triune God. But at the same time, the evil one was attacking me with thoughts, which I accepted. It crossed my mind to ask the Elder secretly, inside my soul, what we must do to gain paradise. I supposed, with my vainglorious brain, that since Father Paisios was so spiritually advanced he would guess my thoughts and answer me. God had pity on me, ignoring my egotism. I saw the Elder put down the wood and come toward us with slow strides, looking deep into my soul―and no longer at my eyes. And he answered me, ‘Have love and faith in Christ, my child.’

“My legs began to tremble, and my heart was beating so hard that I thought it would burst. The only thing that I was able to say was, ‘Gregory, let’s go,’ and ‘Father, your blessing.’ He replied, ‘Why do you want to leave? Sit down, I’ll make you my disciple, and I’ll even give you my name.’ But my heart couldn’t bear the divine revelation that had taken place inside it.

“From then on, my life changed entirely. Even though I never saw him again, there was always an inner spiritual communication between us. His presence in my life, even after his repose, has manifested itself in an amazing way on many occasions. But the biggest miracle is that, although I had been completely estranged from the Church, he succeeded in planting Christ in my soul forever. In less than six years, I went from denying our Church to being a monk. And I received the name Paisios, just as the Elder had foreseen.”
sourse :Elder Paisios of Mount Athos
©2012 For the English Language by The Holy Monastery Saint Arsenios the Cappadocian

Apolytikion of Veneration of the Chains of Ap. Peter
Second Tone

Without leaving Rome, thou didst come to us by the precious chains which thou didst wear. O foremost of the Apostles. And venerating them with faith, we pray: By thine intercessions with God, grant us great mercy.

Kontakion of Veneration of the Chains of Ap. Peter
Second Tone

Now Christ God, the Rock, doth glorify the rock of faith, illustriously, in calling all to celebrate the dread wonders of the most precious chains of Peter, the first and chief of the disciples of Christ our God, Who granteth forgiveness of sins unto all.

Glory …, in Tone VI: the composition of Byzantius:

Today Peter, the rock of faith, the foundation of the Church, appointeth his precious chains for the piety of our souls. Come ye all and, kissing them, let us crown him with hymns of praise, chanting: Rejoice, fervent champion of the faith who hast confessed Christ the Son of God with ardent knowledge and much boldness! Rejoice, joy of the universe, keeper of the keys of the Kingdom of heaven, who bestowest grace upon them that lovingly honor thee and kiss thy precious chains with longing! For, standing before the throne of Christ the King of all, thou prayest for us that celebrate thy memory.

At the Aposticha, stichera from the Oktoechos, and Glory …., in Tone VI:

Peter, the rock of faith, the fervent intercessor, doth again raise us up together to a spiritual feast, setting before us his precious chains as though they were most costly food, unto the healing of infirmities, the consolation of the sorrowful and the harboring of the tempest-tossed. Come ye all, and, kissing them, let us entreat Him Who glorified him, saying: By his prayers, O Christ, save Thou our souls!

ODE VIII
Irmos: O almighty Deliverer of all, descending into the midst of the flame Thou didst bedew the pious and didst teach them to chant: Bless and hymn the Lord, all ye works!

Working hard hearts like the soil, O Peter, thou didst render them most fruitful for the Husbandman of creation Who gaveth thee the divine keys and the authority to loose and bind transgressions.

We ever bless thee, O Peter, and we venerate the chains which thou didst bear as though thou wert a malefactor, slaying the prince of evil and binding him with thy chains, O apostle.

Preserving the fullness of the Church by thine immovable rock of faith, O Peter, drive temptations from its midst and ask a peaceful estate therefore, O blessed Peter.