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In the mercy of God, the little thing done with humility will enable us to be found in the same place as the saints who have labored much and been true servants of God. St. Dorotheos of Gaza

Παναγία Πλατυτερα-χωρα του Αχωρητου_Panagia Platytera_ Богоматерь Знамение11 (2)1 1Saint Chryse (Zlata) of Meglena-Almopia (today Chrysi, Greece), New Martyr (1796)
Martyrs Carpus, Papylus, Agathadorus, and Agathonike at Pergamus; (251)
Venerable Nicetas the Confessor of Paphlagonia (838)
St. Jacob of Hamatoura the Hieromartyr, and those with him in Tripoli in Lebanon (13th c.)
Repose of Monk Enoch Kapsaliotis the Romanian (1979)
Repose of Father Nikolaos Kogionis of Athens (2006)
Translation to Moscow of the Iveron Icon of the Most Holy Theotokos (1648)

Commemorated on October 13

Verses
In torments, O Chryse, thou wast as brilliant
As gold that hath been purified by fire.
On the thirteenth, Chryse was torn to pieces.

Χρυσή νεομάρτυς Mογλενών Πέλλης_Св. Хриса (Хрисия, Злата) Могленская (Меглинская)_Saint Chryse (Zlata) of Meglena, New MaAbba Evagrius said: “I visited Abba Macarius and said to him, ‘Tell me a word so I may live.’
He said to me, ‘If I speak to you, will you listen and do it?’
I said to him, ‘My faith and my love are not hidden from you.’
Abba Macarius said to me, ‘Truly I lack the adornment of virtue; you, however are good. But if you cast of the pridefulness of this world’s rhetoric and clothe yourself in the humility of the tax collector, (Luke 18:9-14), you will live.’”

An old man said, “I would rather be taught than teach. Don’t teach before you are ready, otherwise the whole tenor of your life will be diminished intellectually.”

One old man when asked about humility said that this great and godlike work consisted in undertaking bodily labour, remembering that you are a sinner, and considering yourself to be the least of people in that you pay no attention to the sins of others but be aware of your own and pray to God without ceasing.”

A brother asked an old man if he could given him one precept which he could keep and live by. And the old man said, “It is a great thing above all if you can put up with suffering insults.”

There were two monks living together who were brothers according to the flesh, and the devil wanted to separate them. Once when the younger of the two lit the lamp and put it on the lampstand a demon intervened and knocked it over. The elder brother was angry and struck him but he apologised and said, “I’m sorry, brother. I’ll light it again.” And the presence of God came down among them and tormented that demon till morning. When the demon reported to his master what had happened he was overheard by a pagan priest who immediately went out and became a monk. And from the beginning of his conversion he grasped hold of humility, saying, “Humility overcomes all the power of the devil, for I have overheard them saying, ‘When we stir up strife among monks and one of them apologises all our power is as naught.'”

***

Humility, once firmly established, makes the foundation for wisdom strong . King Solomon famed for his wisdom said, “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). David the Prophet and King said, “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making the wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7), “the simple” referred to here being the humble. In the Holy Book of Sirach we read, “A poor man with wisdom can hold his head high and take his seat among the great” (Sirach 11:1). Again, the poor man in this verse refers to the humble. Why humble? The poor man knows he is poor, is patient when misfortunes strike him, blames himself in everything and does not care about the opinion of others because his aim is simply to please God.

In the mercy of God, the little thing done with humility will enable us to be found in the same place as the saints who have labored much and been true servants of God.” St. Dorotheos of Gaza

***

For it is written: Glory will go before those who are humble. (Proverbs 29:23) And again, The wisdom of the humble person lifts high that person’s head. (Sirach 11:1) And again, Whom will I look upon except the person who is humble and gentle and who trembles at my words? (Isaiah 66:2)

And again it is written: The bones of the humble will rejoice with you in every way. (Psalm 50:10) And again, The prayer of a humble person is immediately heard. (Sirach 4:6)

And the Holy Spirit will illumine all your members, and the twelve virtues will dance in the midst of your soul, and the Cherubim and Seraphim will shelter you beneath their wings.

***

The Synaxary of Hieromartyr Jacob of Hamatoura

Ιάκωβος της Χαματούρα_Jacob of Hamatoura_HamatouraIcon-730x1024“Late in the 13th century, at Our Lady Monastery in Hamatoura, Saint Jacob began his ascetic life. Later, when the monastery was destroyed by the Mamelukes*, he reestablished monasticism along the perimeter of the ruined monastery. In time, he rebuilt the monastery, regenerating and giving renewed vigor to monastic life in the area. His spiritual briskness, vivacity, and popularity among believers drew the attention of the Mamelukes who set their minds to stop his verve and determination and force him to convert to Islam. He [adamantly] refused their relentless pressures.

When the Mamelukes’ horrible coercive attempts failed, they dragged Saint Jacob, along with a number of monks and laymen, from Saint George’s Monastery, situated atop Mount Hamatoura, to Tripoli City (the capital of Northern Lebanon) and handed him to the wali (ruler). For almost a year, he endured tremendous tortures. Nevertheless, he did not give in or renounce his faith despite receiving both adulations and threats from the Mamelukes. Although intimidated by [the uncompromising] Saint Jacob [and his] persistence, finally, as was their custom in punishing their enemies, on October 13th, Saint Jacob was beheaded. In addition, the Mamelukes burned his body to ensure the Church will not give him an honorable burial as a martyr, a burial befitting a saint.

Not long after his death, seeing his sufferings and steadfast faith, our Lord bestowed on him everlasting crowns and graces and today he shines as a martyr as much as he was a beacon during his earthly life; at this time the Church announced Saint Jacob’s holiness and added him to her list of honored Martyr Saints and prayed for his intercession.

Our Saint was almost forgotten in the course of history. This was due to the severe sufferings of the Church under various Moslem sultanates that both weakened Christian spiritual life and resulted in a noticeable drop of Christian literacy. Additionally, all manuscripts and data that could have been sent and translated abroad were either forgotten, lost, or destroyed. However, recorded encounters by the Monastery’s pilgrims, upon seeing visions of Saint Jacob, and many others, who sensed his presence, affirmed and authenticated his sainthood. Glorifying the name of Lord, Saint Jacob also healed many.

We have recently discovered a clear mention of Saint Jacob in a manuscript preserved at the Balamand Monastery in a Gerontikon, a hagiography or compilation of biographical short stories of the lives of holy saints. In a Balamand archival manuscript, numbered 149, it clearly indicates that the Church commemorates his memory on October 13th. The Monastery of the Dormition of the Theotokos – Kousba, Hamatoura, in Lebanon, commemorated his memory, for the first time, on October 13th, 2002, in an all-night prayer vigil (agrypnia). A number of priests, deacons, and believers participated in that memorable day, as the attendees chanted Saint Jacob’s troparion and Akolouthia [service], prepared and edited by the monastery’s monks.

Today, believers and pilgrims are constantly reporting his apparitions, miraculous healings and other Grace-filled deeds. All of this kindled the spiritual fervorness to celebrate the memory of this Saint and give Praise to the Lord, while honoring Saint Jacob of Hamatoura who is still living among us in his monastery performing miraculous deeds, calls, and visitations to believers.
*Mamelukes: are members of a Moslem sultanate, virtual rulers of Egypt (1250-1517). They were defeated by Napoleon in the Battle of the Pyramids (1798), and destroyed by Mohammad Ali (1811). The Mamelukes were originally a mounted military force, recruited from Circassian or Turkish slaves who converted to Islam, and brought up in the courts of Moslem rulers or caliphs.” (http://www.hamatoura.com/swf/Related/StJacob-En.pdf)

***

He has always been present with the faithful: appearing to some and blessing them, healing others, and he has repeatedly been heard, by monks and visitors, chanting in the church encoraging them go deeper in their spiritual lives. He even asked a faithful woman once to inform the monks that he will show them his grave but they disregarded the subject.
On July 3rd, 2008 while renewing the church floor, human bones were found buried in the chapel with a little grave containing two human skeletons, showing marks of torture and beating, some coagulated blood and some liquid blood on the skull. They also found a part of a 3 year old child’s skull with some of his bones, and 2 other skeletons, according to modern laboratory testing conducted by Naji Saaiby M.D. specialized in legal medicine, date 650 years. One of these last two skeletons shows marks of fire, he was also decapitated and his second neck vertebra was lost, what implies according to the criteria of the Balamand manuscript that it is Saint Jacob’s skeleton who was in his fifties when he was killed, his companion was in his fourties, as for the rest of the skeletons they date to 450 years ago.

May Saint Jacob of Hamatoura intercede for all of us. May he make our way easy in every good work that pleases God. Let us be corrected by Him and let us walk in a way that pleases Him, scorning every lust and every desire that the world offers us, so that we may strip off, as the Lord said, this world, being raised up to His love. Amen.

God never abandons us; ‘Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God.’ This is what trust in God is… and God will do what is best. Saint Paisios the Athonite and Fr Enoch of Kapsala the Romanian and the earthquake
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2021/03/10/god-never-abandons-us-let-us-commend-our-whole-life-to-christ-our-god-this-is-what-trust-in-god-is-and-god-will-do-what-is-best/

The Turks tortured St. Zlata of golden heart, tormented her to death for Christ the Living God. by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2020/10/13/the-turks-tortured-st-zlata-of-golden-heart-tormented-her-to-death-for-christ-the-living-god-by-saint-nikolai-velimirovic/

Saint Chryse (Zlata) of Meglena, New Martyr, “As gold in the furnace hath he tried them” Wisdom of Solomon 3:6
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/19998/

Troparion of the Mother of God of PORTAITISSA , in Tone I:

The audacity of those who hate the image of the Lord * and the might of the impious * came godlessly to Nicaea, * and emissaries inhumanly interrogated the widow * who piously venerated the icon of the Mother of God; * but at night, she and her son cast the icon into the sea, crying aloud: * “Glory to thee, O pure one, * for the trackless sea hath given thee its breast! * Glory to thy straight journey, ** O thou who alone art incorrupt!”

Troparion of Holy Martyrs CARPUS & PAPYLUS — Tone 4

In their sufferings, O Lord,/ Thy martyrs received imperishable crowns from Thee our God;/ for, possessed of Thy might,/ they set at nought the tormentors and crushed the feeble audacity of the demons.// By their supplications save Thou our souls.

Apolytikion of St. Jacob of Hamatoura – 3rd Mode “Thy Confession of the true divine faith…”

As a cedar of Lebanon groweth without fear of martyrdom and death, thou didst become a victor, O Father Jacob. Thou didst conquer death in thy body when by humility thou didst control the passions, and when thou wast burnt like incense as a sacrifice. Intercede with Christ to grant us great mercy.

Apolytikion of St. Chryse* ― in the Fourth Tone

O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

Made golden by the All-holy Spirit, you kept spotless purity for Christ, and struggled beyond nature, O Virgin Martyr Chryse, worthy to be praised.

Oikos

Simple and chaste in virtue and way of life, immobile in soul, and steadfast in all things, you shone piously. You were seen as a beautiful youth, and a chosen daughter in truth of the King of all, O golden-named virgin. Who could not therefore hymn you, seeing the greatness of your struggles, and the unspeakable love that you had towards the Creator? For after many blows and various trials you were hanged on a tree, and barbarically, your virginal body was violently torn apart, and you were perfectly joined to Christ, O Virgin Martyr Chryse, worthy to be praised.

*Note: The Saint’s name “Chryse” or “Zlata” translates as “Golden”.


Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. St Seraphim of Sarov

Μυροφόρες_ Myrrhbearers_ Жёны-мироносицы__thumb13Χριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
ХристосВоскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!

«Rejoice!» «Peace be unto you!»

Saints Martyrs Lucillian of Byzantium, 4 martyred Youths and Paula the Virgin (c. 270-275)
Saint Achillas, Bishop of Alexandria (312)
Saint Hieria, widow, of Mesopotamia (312)
Saint Athanasius the Wonderworker, hieromonk of Traiannou Monastery in Bithynia (c. 933)

Commemorated on June 3

An old man was asked, ‘How can I find God?’ He said, ‘In fasting, in watching, in labors, in devotion, and, above all, in discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing. Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that which God seeks: charity and humility.'”

The Desert Fathers

***

“You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgment. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil.”

– St Seraphim of Sarov

***

It seems to me, and I am personally convinced, that the Church must never speak from a position of strength…It ought not to be one of the forces influencing this or that state. The Church ought to be, if you will, just as powerless as God himself, which does not coerce but which calls and unveils the beauty and the truth of things without imposing them. As soon as the Church begins to exercise power, it loses its most profound characteristic which is divine love [i.e.] the understanding of those it is called to save and not to smash…”

– Metropolitan Anthony Bloom

***

“If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least in your thought be like a sluggard. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion, at least refrain from joining him in this.”

– St. Isaac the Syrian

***

St. Porphyrios

“There are two paths that lead to God: the hard and debilitating path with fierce assaults against evil, and the easy path of love. There are many who chose the hard path and ‘shed blood in order to receive Spirit’ until they attained great virtue. I find the shorter and safer route is the path of love.

That is, you can make a different kind of effort: to study and pray and have your aim to advance in the love of God and of the Church. Do not fight to expel darkness from the chamber of your soul. Open a tiny aperture for the light to enter, and the darkness will disappear. The same holds true for our passions and desires. Do not fight them, but transform them into strengths by showing disdain for evil.”

Do not choose negative methods to correct yourselves. There is no need to fear the devil, hell or anything else. These things provoke a negative reaction…The object is to live, to study, to pray and to advance in love…
– Elder Porphyrios, WOUNDED BY LOVE, p. 136

The appearance of St. Loukillianos to St. Paisios the Athonite “Elder, I am Loukilianos”.
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/29152/


Kindness is one of God’s many qualities; therefore, it always spreads joy, drives away the clouds, and opens up hearts like the spring sunshine which makes the earth blossom. St. Paisios the Athonite

Μυροφόρες_ Myrrhbearers_ Жёны-мироносицы_1302627922_st.-pauls-mount-athos-019-1-origΧριστός ανέστη! Αληθώς ανέστη!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Христос Воскрес! Воистину Воскрес!
ქრისტეაღსდგა! ჭეშმარიტადაღსდგა!

St. Paisios the Athonite

Those who suffer deeply for the salvation of the whole world and help in their own way (as strugglers) and humbly entrust themselves to the hands of God, feel the greatest joy in the world. Their life is a constant doxology, for they flutter about internally like angels, glorifying God day and night. Those, however, who neglect the salvation of their souls and try to find joy and rest in this vain life, are continually tortured and entangled in endless worldly machinery and live in hell in this life.

Those who have philotimo, because they move within the heavenly sphere of doxology, joyfully accept their trials as well as their blessings, and glorify God for them. Thus, they are continuously receiving God’s blessing from everything and are melting internally out of gratitude towards God, which they express in every spiritual way possible, like children of God.

The fervent love of Christ nourishes more than any other material food and gives many calories to the soul and body. Oftentimes, it even cures incurable diseases without medication and brings rest to souls. .

Those who do not sacrifice their physical health for the love of Christ, scorning their bodily rest, will not find spiritual rest, either in this life or in the next, eternal life.

Those who, out of pure love, sacrifice even their own lives to protect their fellow men, imitate Christ. These people are, of course, the greatest heroes, because even death trembles before them, since they defy death out of love. Thus, they triumph with immortality, and, taking the key to eternity out from beneath the gravestone, they proceed freely to eternal blessedness.

It is preferable for a sensitive person to be himself killed once, out of love, in order to protect his fellow man, than to cop out or back out and be constantly slaughtered by his conscience for the rest of his life.

Sacrifice for our fellow man conceals our great love for Christ. Those who have good intentions to give alms, but have nothing and on this account are afflicted, give charity with the blood of their hearts.

Those who want to be martyred for the love of Christ when martyrdom is not an option, can manifest this love that burns within them through bodily asceticism for the sake of the souls of the reposed which are burning, so that these souls will find a little rest.

Indifferent and merciless people, who think only of their own selves, insensitively satisfying themselves, simultaneously fill their hearts with much anguish. Within them works the little worm of a troubled conscience, and they are tormented already in this life. Merciful people, on the other hand, since they are always filling others with love, are always filled with the love of God and His abundant blessings…

Kindness is one of God’s many qualities; therefore, it always spreads joy, drives away the clouds, and opens up hearts like the spring sunshine which makes the earth blossom. It even warms up snakes and takes them out of their cold holes so they, too, can enjoy God’s kindness. .

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

“To some people your love will be expressed with joy and to others it will be expressed with your pain. You will consider everyone your brother or your sister, for we are all children of Eve (of the large family of Adam, of God). Then, in your prayer you will say: ‘My God, help those first who are in greater need, whether they are alive or reposed brothers in the Lord.’ At that point, you will share your heart with the whole world and you will have nothing but immense love, which is Christ”

***

Μυροφόρες_ Myrrhbearers_ Жёны-мироносицы_M_13a7df9e386a906918cf7b8a4d9b0cf781Inasmuch as the Good God treats us with love and kindness and invites us to Paradise, so must we not treat our fellow men barbarously, setting our conscience at rest with the thought that we send souls to Paradise with our cruel ways.

Whoever behaves in a barbaric way, ostensibly to benefit souls spiritually, is worse than Diocletian, for Diocletian was an idolater and not a Christian.

Christ does not commend killing people with cruel behavior and sending souls to Paradise, but He wants us to help our fellow men so that we might all go to Paradise together. Those who endure martyrdom from Christians receive a greater reward than the Martyrs, if they suffer with joy and do not judge those who torture them, but are grateful to them for the recompense of their sins, or, if they were not blameworthy in their life, for the reward and crown they will receive from Christ.

Similarly, he who preaches the word of God egotistically and in a frenzy (from his passions) resembles the porcupine that transports grapes on its spikes in order to feed its children, but by moving about nervously it increasingly makes them bleed — especially if they are sensitive — instead of feeding them.

Those who have much discernment, have noble love and humility as well. They even sweeten bitter truth with their kindness and express it with much simplicity. They help more positively than do sweet words, just as bitter medicine is more beneficial than sweet syrups.

Inner love is evident to people because it sweetens the person externally and beautifies him with Divine Grace, which cannot be concealed due to its radiance.

The angel, as an angel, always spreads what he possesses — heavenly joy and delight.

from the book Epistles by St. Paisios the Athonite (Souroti, 2002),


God wants that all men be saved, that is why He descended into Hades… Pyramid of being… St. Nikolai Velimirovich – St. Sophrony Sakharov

αποκαθήλωση_Положение во Гроб_Jesus Christ Crucifixion_Byzantine-Orthodox-Icon_0_9eb28_ae7ef99e_XX XLSynaxarion.
On Great and Holy Saturday, we celebrate the burial of the divine Body and the descent into Hades of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through which He recalled our human race from corruption and passed it over into life eternal.

Verses
In vain you guard the grave, O guards
No tomb can hold Him who is life itself.

HOMILY
About the great desire of God
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich

“Who wills everyone to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

God wants that all men be saved, that is why He descended into Hades to save those who lived on earth before His coming. For, had He not descended into Hades, an enormous number of righteous souls would have perished forever. And yet, had He not descended into Hades, the main habitat of evil against God and the human race, Hades would have remained undestroyed.
Therefore, the two reasons which motivated Christ, the Giver-of-Life, to descend into Hades in the Spirit are: First, to destroy the nest of the powers of Hades and, Second, to bring from Hades to Heaven, the souls of ancestors, prophets and righteous men and women, who have fulfilled the Old Dispensation (The Old Law of God) and, by that, pleased God.

Before satan was totally jubilant at gazing upon Christ humiliated and lifeless on the Cross, Christ appeared alive and almighty in the midst of Hades, the primary abode of satan. What unexpected and dreadful news for satan! For three years satan wove snares against Christ on earth and in three days, behold, Christ destroyed satan’s kingdom and carried away the most precious booty in the form of a swarm of righteous souls.

O Lord, You want that all men be saved. We pray to You, save even us. For there is no salvation nor Savior outside of You. In You do we hope, You alone do we worship, You, the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always. Amen.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/April3.htm

Μονή Προδρόμου Έσσεξ-St. John Baptist Monastery-Essex-England-Монастырь св Иоанна Крестителя Эссекс-Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_047

Pyramid of being…
St. Sophrony Sakharov

Fr. Sophrony [Sakharov], in his book on St. Silouan, presents this theory of the “inverted pyramid.” He says that the empirical cosmic being is like a pyramid:
In the structure of the world we observe a hierarchical order, a division into upper and lower — a pyramid of being. Yet the idea of equality is deeply rooted in our consciousness and is not to be denied.

But is equality possible where liberty is the fundamental principle of existence? Millenary experience of the history of humanity suggests a reply in the negative.

What, then, can be done to alter this state of affairs, so unacceptable to the human conscience? We cannot ignore our longing to see all men equal in plenitude of divine life.

Let us see how Christ resolved the dilemma.

The Lord does not deny the fact of inequality, hierarchy, division into upper and lower, into overlord and servant; but He turns the pyramid upside down and thus achieves the ultimate perfection.

Ιησούς Χριστός αποκαθήλωση_Положение во Гроб_Jesus Christ Crucifixion_Byzantine-Orthodox-Icon_snyatie1The incontestable apex of this pyramid is the Son of Man Himself, the Unique, True, Eternal Savior; and He says of Himself that He ‘came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life as a ransom for many.’ (Mat. 20:28) Concerning the angels, we learn that they are beings superior to us in their knowledge and mode of existence, in comparison with our terrestrial mode of existence, but the Apostle speaks of them as ‘ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.’ (Heb. 1:14) The Savior bade His disciples follow the example He gave them when He washed their feet. ‘Ye know,’ He told them, ‘that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister. And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ (Mat. 20:25-27; Mk. 10:42-44) Here we are shown both the designation and the raison d’être of the ecclesiastical hierarchy — to raise those low in the spiritual scale to a higher degree of perfection, as the Apostle puts it, ‘And He gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Until we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’ (Eph. 4:11-13)

Christ as Creator — and in this sense, cause — of the created universe, took upon Himself the burden, the sin of the whole world. He is the summit of the inverted pyramid, the summit on which the whole weight of the pyramid of being falls. In an inexplicable way those who follow after Christ become like Him in taking upon themselves the burdens of the infirmities of others. ‘We then who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.’ (Rom. 15:1)

Ἄκρα Ταπείνωσις_ Christ Extreme Humility_5_496843145835597590_n…The Christian goes downwards, into the depths of the overturned pyramid where the crushing weight is concentrated — to the place where the Lord is, Who took upon Himself the sins of the world — Christ… At the base of the overturned pyramid — the unfathomable base which is really the summit — is He Who took upon Himself the sins and burdens of the world, the Christ crucified in love for the world. And there we remark a quite especial life, a quite especial light, an especial fragrance. This is where love attracts the athletes of Christ. Love for Christ martyrizes the chosen one, weighs heavily on him, makes his life unbearably hard, until this love arrives at its ultimate desire, and the ways the soul elects to attain to that ultimate end are peculiar. (St. Silouan the Athonite, p. 237-239) 

One of the strongest elements drawn out in both the life and teachings of St. Silouan is just this word of humility as illustrated in my opening quote. To be a follower of Christ is to accept a “downward path,” to follow Christ into the depths of His humility. This is not a new word, but echoes that of the Apostle (which itself seems to have been a hymn which the Apostle was quoting):
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phillipians 2:5-11).

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_εν ταφω_653756862436“Τον ήλιον κρύψαντα” (Seeing the sun hide its rays)

This hymn is a lament chanted from the perspective of Joseph of Arimathea, pleading with Pontius Pilate for the Body of Jesus. It is one of the most beautiful hymns of the Holy Week, Matins of Holy and Great Saturday.

To all the strangers of this world…

Plagal of First Tone

Ιωσήφ της Αριμαθαίας_St Joseph of Arimathea_ Иосиф Аримафейский__Saint-Joseph-of-Arimathea-cf83cf89cebcceb1-cf84cebfcf85-cf87cf81ceb9CX4K2833As the sun hid its very rays at the Savior’s death, and the curtain of the temple was rent in twain,Joseph of everlasting memory approached Pilate beseeching him in this manner;

Give me this stranger, who from infancy has been as a stranger,a sojourner in the world.

Give me this stranger, whon His own race has hated and delivered unto death as a stranger.

Give me this stranger, who in a strange manner is a stranger to death.

Give me this stranger, who has received the poor as guests.

Give me this stranger, whom the jews from envy estranged from the world.

Give me this stranger, that i may hide him in a tomb, for as a stranger He has no place to lay His head.

Give me this stranger, whose Mother seeing His dead body cries out:”O my Son and my God, I am sorely wounded within me and my heart is rent,seeing Thee as one dead:but in Thy Resurrection I take courage and magnify Thee”.Thus entreating Pilate with these words, noble Joseph receives the body of the Savior: and wrapping it with fear in a linen with myrrh, he places in a tomb Him Who bestows upon all eternal life and great mercy.

Idiomelon. Mode 2.

Today, the sepulcher holds Him who holds creation in the palm of His hand, and a stone covers Him who covers the heavens with virtue. Life sleeps, and Hades trembles, and Adam is released from his bonds. Glory to Your dispensation, through which, when You had accomplished all, You gave us the eternal Sabbath rest, Your all-holy Resurrection from the dead.

Second Stanza. Mode pl. 1.

Truly you are Myrrh, * truly, Word of God, the Myrrh Unfailing, * so it was myrrhbearers brought myrrh to you, * to the Living God brought myrrh as to the dead.

Both now. Theotokion.
Mode 1

Let us praise Mary the Virgin, glory of all the world. Born of human parents, she gave birth to the Lord, and is the doorway to heaven. The adornment of the faithful, she is hymned by the angelic hosts. For she has been shown to be heaven and the temple of the Godhead. She is the one who, breaking down the wall of enmity, ushered in peace and threw open the Kingdom. With her as the anchor of our faith, we have a defender in the Lord, to whom she gave birth. Take courage, therefore, people of God, take courage; for he, the Almighty, will defeat your enemies.

Grave Mode.

Arise, O God; judge the earth, for You shall inherit all the Gentiles.

τρεις παίδες εν καμίνω_Three Holy Youths-Анания, Азария и Мисаил-2557071Chanted during Holy Saturday Morning Service
THE EIGHTH ODE – The Hymn of the Holy Three Children (Dan. 3: 57-88)

Praise the Lord, ye creatures which He hath made.
Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages

Bless the Lord, all ye works of the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, all ye angels of the Lord, and ye heavens of the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, all ye waters that are above the heavens, and all ye powers of the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye sun and moon, and ye stars of heaven: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, every shower and dew, and all ye winds: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye fire and heat, ye winter cold and summer heat: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye falls of dew and snow, ye ice and cold: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye frosts and snows, ye lightning and clouds: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye light and darkness, ye night and day: praise the Lord, and exalt Him above for ever.
Bless the Lord, O ye earth, ye mountains and hills, and all things that spring up therein: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye fountains, ye seas and floods, ye monsters of the sea, and all things that move in the waters: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, all ye winged creatures of the air, ye beasts and all cattle: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye sons of men; let Israel bless the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
For 8 verses
Bless the Lord, O ye priests of the Lord, ye servants of the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages

Bless the Lord, O ye spirits and souls of the righteous, ye holy and humble of heart: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
For 6 verses
Bless the Lord, O Ananias, Azarias and Misael: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
Bless the Lord, O ye apostles, ye prophets and martyrs of the Lord: Praise Ye the Lord and Supremely Exault him unto the ages
For 4 verses
Let us bless the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Lord: Praising the Lord and Supremely Exaulting him unto the ages
Let us praise, and bless, and worship the Lord: Praising the Lord and Supremely Exaulting him unto the ages

The Song of the Three Holy Youths


In yourself, do not have any hope, In God place all of your hopes, That is holy humility. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Ευαγγελισμός της Θεοτόκου_Благовещение Пресвятой Богородицы_The Annunciation_ უბისის მონასტერი4%d0%b2The essence of a True spiritual life is Humility.

An old man was asked, ‘How can I find God?’ He said, ‘In fasting, in watching, in labors, in devotion, and, above all, in discernment. I tell you, many have injured their bodies without discernment and have gone away from us having achieved nothing. Our mouths smell bad through fasting, we know the Scriptures by heart, we recite all the Psalms of David, but we have not that which God seeks: charity and humility.‘ 
From the Desert Fathers

Hymn of Praise
Venerable John the Discerner, On Humility
by St. Nikolai Velimirovič

John the Discerner, teacher of humility,
With tears of joy, about humility he spoke:
O beloved children, right-believing children,
The humbler you are, to God more dear
Asceticism, without humility helps not at all,
His soul to the devil, the arrogant one offers.
Your soul, if you empty of self,
The Living God will then fulfill you.
Than God Himself, Who is more humble?
In secret, without clamor, the world He directs,
Therefore, the insane think that He does not even exist.
If the wind would not blow, nor shriek, nor howl,
About it, the insane would also say that it does not exists!
He who has humility, himself reprimands,
In every virtue, that one easily succeeds.
Than the poor in spirit, humility is nothing more,
That is the Savior’s blessed teaching:
In yourself, do not have any hope,
In God place all of your hopes,
That is holy humility. Whoever violates it
The darkest destruction for his soul, that one prepares.
The thoughts of all the saints, in that, they are strict
Without much humility, no one is saved!
Joyous is the humble, because God rules with him.
O, beloved children, Being humble is akin to being saved!
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/March27.htm

***

Homily
About humility as a precursor of glory [honor]
Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“…And humility goes before honors [glory]” (Proverbs 15:33).

ευαγγελισμος-θεοφ.Here, the word is about true glory and not false glory; about glory that is eternal and not about glory that dies. Glory that is of man is glory that dies, and glory that is of God is eternal. Those whom men glorified are not glorified and those whom God glorifies are glorified. Our Lord said to the Jewish scribes: “How can you believe who receive glory [honor] from one another and do not seek the glory [honor] which is from the only God?” (St. John 5:44). See how our Lord makes a distinction between the glory from men and the glory from God. And about Himself, He said: “I do not receive glory from men” (St John 5:41). He who seeks glory from men travels the path of pride and he who seeks glory from God travels the path of humility. No one is glorified by God without humility. The saints of God were the most humble servants of God. The Most Holy Birth-giver of God [Theotokos] was adorned with overwhelming humility. To her great humility, she ascribed her being chosen as the Mother of God: “Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid” (St. Luke 1:48). But the humblest of the most humble, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, was the founder of asceticism. During His earthly life, humility always preceded glory.

Brethren, it must also be that way in our life if we desire true glory. For if humility does not precede glory, glory will never come.

O Lord Jesus, Model and Teacher of humility, our only glory and the Glorifier of all the humble and meek, inspire us with Your inexpressible humility.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
http://livingorthodoxfaith.blogspot.gr/2010/04/prologue-june-14-june-27.html

If we think about the Latin roots of the word humility, we see that it comes from the word humus, which indicates fruitful earth. St. Theophan writes about this. Just think about what earth is. It lies there in silence, open, defenseless, vulnerable before the face of the sky. From the sky it receives scorching heat, the sun’s rays, rain, and dew. It also receives what we call fertilizer, that is, manure—everything that we throw into it. And what happens? It brings forth fruit. And the more it bears what we emotionally call humiliation and insult, the more fruit it yields. Anthony of Sourozh

 


God never abandons us; ‘Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God.’ This is what trust in God is… and God will do what is best. Saint Paisios the Athonite and Fr Enoch of Kapsala the Romanian and the earthquake

Γεώργιος ο Τροπαιοφόρος _Saint George the Trophy-bearer_ Святой Георгий Победоносец_წმინდა გიორგი გმირავს_Παναγια535400St. Sophronius, patriarch of Jerusalem (638).
Venerable John Moschos (622).
Saint George Arselaitis of Sinai (6th c.).
Venerable George, abbot of Sinai, brother of St. John Climacus (7th c.).
Venerable George the New, wonderworker of Constantinople (970)
St. Theodora, queen of Arta, wife of Despot Michael II of Epirus (1275)
Hieromartyr Eulogius, metropolitan of Cordova (859).

Commemorated on March 11

Archbishop Christophoros Atallah, Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Amman, Jordan:

An earthquake occurred in the 1970s (if I recall correctly from the Fathers). They were on the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) and suddenly, as they were in a night vigil (Saint Paisios attended this vigil too)… One the fathers spoke about a fascinating scene that I would like to tell you about… Suddenly, while being in the church in a night vigil, an earthquake occurs, the chandeliers started shaking and falling down to the floor. People who were in the church went outside. Everyone was screaming in fear. The elder monks in the monastery were siting like this, like you brothers and sisters are siting now in those seats, they were holding their candles and were praying. None of them moved… nothing.

Παναγια Πορταιτισσα_Icon-of-The-Mother-of-God-of-Iveron-Panagia-Portraitissai4 (1)issaSaint Paisios was outside, he was about to enter the church, as one of the deacons was running to the outside.
So he found Saint Paisios on his way and said to him: Paisios, don’t you see?! Everything is shaking, where are you going inside the church?!
What did Saint Paisios answer? He replied: “Didn’t your mother use to swing you? At that time you weren’t afraid… Now that Jesus is swinging us back and forth a little… you become afraid! Let me go on my way…”

And he entered the church. Earthquake is like a swing… Do you see the peace in the person’s heart where Jesus is present? Where peace is present… where Jesus is…
Jesus is peace.
Jesus is joy.
Jesus is safety.
Jesus is hope.
The scene of the elders as they kept in their places not moving, while everyone else was afraid.

I recall another event during the same earthquake. There was a monk in Thessaloniki. All the people in the city of Thessaloniki went out to the streets, but he went up and sat on the balcony. They came ringing on his door. He was staying in one of the student dormitory.
They knocked on his door and said to him:
Monk Enoch (this was his name, Enoch), come out… things are breaking down, houses are collapsing”.
He replied quietly:
“If our Lord wants Enoch to die, Enoch will die”.
He was Romanian and didn’t speak Greek so good
“If our Lord wants Enoch to die, Enoch will die. If our Lord doesn’t want Enoch to die, Enoch will not die.”
He closed the door of his room and went back to the balcony.

I’ve told you these stories so that we don’t fear, so that we keep Jesus inside us, Who is the source of peace.
English translation by Waad Rabahie
https://www.facebook.com/oratorjumssp/posts/3205055982928823

Ιησούς Χριστός_Jesus-Christ_Господне Иисус-Христос-Byzantine Orthodox Icon_.-θ.λειτουργ.Saint Paisios the Athonite
Divine Energies are Omnipotent

Locusts, wars, drought and disease, they are all scourges. They’ re not God’s way of educating human beings but the result of our moving away  from God. They happen because we stray from Him. God’s wrath comes to make us remember Him and ask for help. It’s not that He arranges and orders, so to speak, these calamities to happen. Rather, God allows them to happen because He sees how far human evil can go and how unwilling we are to change our ways, and so He tries to bring us to our senses. But they are not of His own making… 

…It is good to know that the faithful who obey the commandments of God receives His Grace, and that God is, shall we say, obliged to help them in these difficult times….

…God never abandons us; we are the ones who forget and abandon Him. When man does not live spiritually, he is no entitled to divine help. But when he does live spiritually and is near God, he is entitled to it. Then if something happens and he dies, he is read for the other life, in which case he gains both in this life and in the next.

God’s help can’t be obstructed, neither by men nor demons. Nothing is difficult for God or a Saint. The obstacle for us humans is our lack of faith, which prevent the great divine energies from coming to us. And while there is such a great power next to us, we, because there is such a great amount of the human element in us, cannot understand the divine energies which exceed all of the world’s human powers, because they are omnipotent…

we can leave to God those activities which are difficult to achieve by human means and not be dependent upon our human efforts, reassured that God will do what is best.

For everything you think of doing, remember to say, “God willing”
Elder Paisios, Spiritual awakening, Souroti: Holy Monastery Evangelist John the Theologian, vol. IIΠαναγία_icon of Panagia _ иконы Божией Матери1c7be723d1fc1fdf31cc67fb842699d0

Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalivia

Complete trust in God , that is what holy humility is. Complete obedience to God, without protest, without reaction, even when some things seem difficult. Abandonment of the hands to God. The words we repeat during the Divine Liturgy say it all: ‘Let us commend our whole life to Christ our God.’ The secret prayer of the priest says the same thing: ‘We commend our whole life and hope to You, O loving Master, and we entreat You and beseech You and supplicate You…’ To you, O Lord, we leave everything. This is what trust in God is. This is holy humility. this is what transfigures a person and makes him a ‘God-man’.
The ability to sanctify your soul is a great art. One can become holy anywhere. Even in Omonia (the main square in Athens) one can be sanctified, if he wants. You can become saints at work, no matter what it is – in calmness, patience and love.
All your effort should be focused on gazing at the light, attaining the light. In this way, instead of turning to grief which is not of God’s Spirit, you should turn yourselves to praising God.
Grief shows that we don’t entrust our life to Christ.
Don’t look at evil. Look into God’s arms, fall into His arms and move on.

The humble person believes that all things depend on Christ and that Christ gives His grace and in that way he makes progress. The person who possesses holy humility lives even now in the earthly uncreated Church. He always has the joy of Christ, even in the most displeasing circumstances….. (From the Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love.)

Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; Saint George Arselaitis, abbot of Sinai
https://iconandlight.wordpress.com/2018/04/13/23045/οι ψυχές στο χέρι του Θεού_Души праведных в руце Божией_Orthodox icon_The souls of the righteous in the hand of God_ Manasija (Resava) monasery, Serbia, 15th century2345Apolytikion of St Sophronios Tone 4

The truth of things hath revealed thee to thy flock as a rule of faith, an icon of meekness, and a teacher of temperance; for this cause, thou hast achieved the heights by humility, riches by poverty. O Father and Hierarch Sophronios, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Troparion Icon of Panagia Portaitissa of Iveron, in Tone I:

The audacity of those who hate the image of the Lord * and the might of the impious * came godlessly to Nicaea, * and emissaries inhumanly interrogated the widow * who piously venerated the icon of the Mother of God; * but at night, she and her son cast the icon into the sea, crying aloud: * “Glory to thee, O pure one, * for the trackless sea hath given thee its breast! * Glory to thy straight journey, ** O thou who alone art incorrupt!

Troparion of the earthquake, in Tone VIII:

O Christ our God, Who lookest on the earth and makest it tremble: deliver us from the dreadful threat of earthquake, and send down upon us thy rich mercies and save us, through the prayers of the Theotokos.

At the Aposticha, these stichera for the earthquake, the composition of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain: In Tone II:

When the earth trembled with fear at Thy wrath, the mountains and hills did quake, O Lord; but, regarding us with the eye of Thy compassion, be Thou not wroth with us in Thine anger, but, taking pity on the works of Thy hands, free us from the dreadful threat of earthquake, in that Thou art good and the Lover of mankind.

ODE IV
Canon for the Earthquake
Irmos: Christ is my power, my God and my Lord, the honored Church doth chant in godly manner, crying out from its pure mind, keeping festival in the Lord.

Thou dost cause all things to quake by thy divine command, and Thou dost strike terror into the hearts of them that live on earth, O Master. Wherefore, calm thou the waves of Thy righteous wrath, O Lord!

ODE IX
Canon for the Earthquake

Irmos: It is not possible for men to see God, upon Whom the hosts of
angels dare not gaze; but through thee, O all-pure one, the incarnate
Word hath appeared to men, and, magnifying Him, we bless thee with the heavenly hosts.

O Christ, from earthquake, the sword, bitter bondage, pagan invasion, defeat, famine, pestilence, and every other affliction deliver Thou Thy city and every land that doth hymn Thee in faith.

Groaning, the earth crieth out wordlessly: Wherefore do ye pollute me with many evils, all ye men? For, sparing you, the Master woundeth me alone. Come, then, to your senses, and move God to mercy by repenting!


Our Lord never soiled anyone, but cleansed all who wished to be cleansed. Make our brothers, O Lord, whom we have soiled, brighter than we in Your kingdom. Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

Χριστός_ascensHomily:
About knowing and doing
by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič

“If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it” (St. John 13:17).

The most important aspect of this scripture text of our Lord, brethren, is thatthe Lord does not mitigate knowing, but stresses doing. He does not say to the apostles, “Blessed are you when you know this.” Some pagan teachers who viewed salvation only in terms of knowledge spoke in this manner. However, our Lord says, “Blessed are you if you do it.” The knowledge of salvation was given to us by the Lord Jesus Himself, and no one is able to attain that knowledge through his own efforts. Some of the ancient Greek philosophers said that mankind cannot come to the knowledge of the truth, nor can be saved, until God Himself comes to earth. Our Lord came among men and revealed this knowledge to them. Whosoever receives this knowledge also accepts the obligation to fulfill it.

O, how much easier will it be at the judgment for those who never received this knowledge at all, and consequently, did not fulfill it, than for those who received this knowledge and neglected to fulfill it.
O, how much easier it will be at the judgment for unlearned pagans than for the learned Christians.

Our Lord alone showed Himself not only as a Knower, but also as a Doer. His perfect knowledge complimented His perfect doing. Before the eyes of His disciples, He personally fulfilled all of His own commandments. He gave them this commandment and completed this act of humility and love when He washed the feet of His disciples. He then commanded that they should do this to one another. Our Lord did not dwell among men to soil men, but to wash them. He never soiled anyone, but cleansed all who wished to be cleansed. What kind of shame is it for many of us who labor much to wash ourselves and labor twice as much to soil others?

O, my brethren, we muddy our own blood brothers. Even Christ weeps when He sees how we, with the mud of slander, soil those whom He has washed with His own blood.

O Lord forgive us! We sin everyday against our own brothers. Make our brothers, O Lord, whom we have soiled, brighter than we in Your kingdom. You are just and You see all.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
prologue.orthodox.cn/March1.htm

Glory …, First Mode

Let us cleanse ourselves, brethren, with the queen of the virtues: for behold, she is come, bringing us a wealth of blessings. She quells the uprising of the passions, and reconciled sinners to the Master. Therefore let us welcome her with gladness, and cry aloud to Christ our God: O risen from the dead, who alone art free from sin, guard us uncondemned as we give thee glory.


The Prayer is “heavy artillery” to the devil. The demon-possessed are greatly helped when priests read out their names during the Proskomide with a pained heart. St Paisios of Mount Athos

δαιμονισμένων των Γεργεσηνών ή 'Γαδαρηνών'vindecarea_demonizatilor_din_tinutul_gherghesenilor_12566th Sunday of Luke
The Gadarene Demoniac Luke 8: 27-39

St Paisios of Mount Athos

Elder, how many demons lived inside the demon possessed Gadarene?

-«Many demons», according to the Gospel. That’s why the possessed man said that his name was «legion». And you should note that, just as a whole lot of demons can dwell inside a possessed person, in the same way, all the Saints can fit inside a faithful’s heart. If Christ can fit in there, then the Saints most certainly can! Such huge mysteries! One time, when I was at the Hut of the Precious Cross, someone rang the doorbell outside. I looked through the window, and what did I see? A man that was being trailed by an entire column of demons – a black swarm of them! It was the first time that I have ever seen a man possessed by so many demons. He was a medium: he had combined benedictions of the Church with invocations to demons; Christian books with books of magic spells; this was the reason he was under the power of the demons. Terrible!! I was greatly sorrowed…

Some psychiatrists regard the demon-possessed as psychopaths. But then, some priests also claim that certain psychopaths are demon-possessed. The fact remains, that a psychopath should go elsewhere to be helped and a demon-possessed person elsewhere. But can a psychiatrist help the demon-possessed? 

-Elder, is a demon-possessed person in a position to understand what he was guilty of, that rendered him demon-possessed?

-Yes, he can. Unless his brain was affected also, in which case, it is very difficult to help him. If he is only demon-possessed, it is much easier to communicate with him and help him., but he must obey – otherwise how will he be helped?

One time a person from southern Greece visited me at my Hut; he had been to India and had become demon-possessed. He spouted all kinds of swear words and foamed at the mouth. His eyes were wide open, with a wild gaze. I kept telling him “stop swearing, because that’s how you invite the demons” but he wouldn’t listen. And yet, he had come to me for help. He kept saying “help me – only you can help me”. So I told him “How do you expect me to help? You want me to pray so that you can be released with the Grace of Jesus Christ, but you keep inviting the demons. Go and confess, ask for the Exorcisms to be read over you, then come to me to discuss the matter”. But he replied “I won’t go”. So I said “Come inside, and let me dab some oil from the Icon lamp on you”. “I don’t want that – I want you to help me”. Then he went off and began to talk to someone else. Then after a while, while I was telling another group of visitors that God permits trials for our salvation, that person shouted from a distance “Hey, you! Why do you say that God works so that people might be saved? We have a father in heaven, and one on earth, and further up there’s a lord». «Enough with the demonology!», I said to him, and inside me I was reciting the Prayer. «Now you’ve confused me», he said. «Go away!», I said to him, and brushed him away from me. He curled up into a ball. «Whose side are you on?», he asked me. «Christ’s», I replied. «You’re lying – you’re not on Christ’s side, since I am Christ and you’re attacking me». …. See how the devil had presented things in reverse?

-That’s what the devil says?

-Yes, the devil, but you see God gave him the courage to come as far as the Holy Mountain. For him to have set off from the other end of Greece to come to the Mountain in such a state is a huge thing! Unfortunately however, he wouldn’t listen and so became worse. If he had shown obedience, he would have received help….

***

Άγιος Παΐσιος ο Αγιορείτης _Преподобный старец Паисий Святогорец_ St.Paisios of the Holy Mountain_απο την Ιερά Μονή Τιμίου Προδρόμου , στη Μεταμόρφωση Χαλκιδικής_Whoever has a whole lot of pride is in the dark. His mind is in turmoil, as though it’s overcome by exhaust fumes. He will make clumsy mistakes and not realize it. His perception will have reached such a degree of darkness that, no matter what you tell him to help him, he will not understand. He will say that you’re pressuring him! He calls that pressuring? Try taking that thought out of his head… No, he isn’t insane, since his brain is still working. He needs to understand that what he says is a denial, a blaspheming.

That’s how they gradually get to the point of Satan-worship. If you observe Satan-worshippers, you can tell they’re possessed by the devil. You can discern a certain state of possession about them. And they lure poor unsuspecting children wherever they want, with their compelling music. They go as far as actually invoking Satan. I have heard that if you play certain “rock” records backwards(6), you will hear subliminal messages by which they invoke the devil. They even have glorifications of Satan: «I dedicate myself to you, Satan». Terrible!

***

– Elder, how can one tell if someone is possessed rather than a psychopath?

– Even a simple doctor, a devout one, can recognize this. People that are afflicted by a demon jump up or jolt when they approach anything sacred. And so, it is obvious that they have a demon. If you offer them a little bit of holy water or if you cross them with a sacred Relic, they react, because the demons inside are annoyed and pressed, whereas if they suffer from a mental disorder, they do not react at all. Even if you are wearing a cross and approach them they get worried and shaken. Once, during a vigil on Mount Athos, the fathers told me they thought that a lay person there was possessed by a demon.

I sat in the stall* next to his and laid my cross on him which contained a piece of the Holy Cross. He jerked, got up and moved to the other side. When the church started emptying out a little, I discretely approached him. Again, the same thing. I understood that he really did have a demon.

When they bring children to my hut and tell me that they have a demon, to determine whether they are possessed, I sometimes take a piece of the holy relic of Saint Arsenios and hide it in my hand. And you should see them. Despite the fact I have both my hands closed, if the child has a demon, he stares in fear at the hand with which I am holding the holy relic. However, if he doesn’t have a demon, but, for example, a mental illness, he doesn’t react at all. At other times, I give them water in which I have previously dipped a part of the holy relic. If they have a demon, they do not drink it; they move away from it.

***

Παναγια_Γεωργιος τροπαιοφορος_801772138_6060656564349518635_nThe Prayer is “heavy artillery” to the devil. They had brought a demon-possessed young man to my Hut, who repeated the Prayer continuously. His father was a monk, but had discarded his monastic habit and got married, so the poor lad was born with a demon. That was how God’s providence allowed matters – so that the young man reap a reward, his father be saved, and we monks have as a brake such examples of monks leaving their calling and thereafter being tormented. Anyway, the demon in him was suddenly roused and the young man began to cluck like a hen. “What’s the matter?” I asked him (while I was mentally saying “In the name of Jesus Christ, come out you unclean spirit from this creature of God!”) “I want to depart” shouted the demon “because he is tormenting me so much by constantly repeating the Prayer… I want to get away to Pakistan, to find some peace and quiet!”

We should always pray for the demon-possessed with humility, with heartache and with love. There was this demon-possessed woman who really made my soul ache. The poor thing, she showed condescension to the devil by saying “yes” to it, and it has been plaguing her for years. It has been burning her flesh. She and her husband go from monastery to monastery – and they even drag their 16-year old daughter with them – and they sit all night in church during night-vigils. If she were a man, I would hug her tightly – the demon suffers terribly, when you embrace the possessed person with divine love… When you don’t aggravate the demon-possessed person and don’t go against him/her but instead feel compassion, the demon will depart, for a short or a long while. Humility is the worst kind of “shock” for the devil.

***

“Do not pay attention to the words of a demon-possessed person”

– Elder, what should one be aware of when speaking with a demon possessed person?

He needs to say the prayer (i.e. the Jesus prayer) and treat them kindly.

– Elder, do the possessed remember their words during their attacks?

– Some things they remember and others not. We do not know how God works. Sometimes He allows them to remember so that they humble themselves and repent. And when a demon possessed person asks for something, it is not easy to distinguish if it is from the devil or if the person themself is in need.
I had once met a possessed girl somewhere. She had read Kazantzakis and believed some blasphemous things, and as a result she became possessed. Suddenly the demon caught her and she started screaming! “I am burning, I am burning”. Her family held her, so that I could cross her. Then she yelled: “Water, water!”. I said, “bring her water”. “No, no,” they replied “because someone told us not to obey the devil”. “Now,” I said, “the poor girl is thirsty. Bring some water”. I understood when the burn was due to the devil and when it was due to thirst. The poor girl drank a couple of glasses of water. “I feel as if I have coal inside of me,” she said. “It burns that much. Even if I drank a bucket of water, the fire would still not go out inside”. She felt that much of a burning!

... Sometimes, the possessed person says things they’ve read in spiritual material, etc. What can I say? Confusing things. That is why when you talk with them, be very careful. Do not pay attention to their words. They may say, for example, “You’re burning me”. If you really are burning him and you say “I’m burning him”, then you’re ‘burned’ (i.e. in trouble). If you are not burning him but believe you are burning him, then you are twice ‘burned’. Or they could scream “filthy” and say to someone “[but] you are clean”. If she believes it, then she’s gone, lost. That is why you should not play around with the devil.

***

Ιάκωβος Εύβοιας_St.Iakovos of Evia_Св Иаков Тсаликис Эвбейский -233321The demon-possessed are greatly helped when priests read out their names during the Proskomide with a pained heart.

-Elder, when someone who was possessed and has repented, has confessed and has received Communion but is not rid of the demonic influence, what has happened?

-The demon hasn’t left him, because his spiritual condition is not yet stable. If God helps him immediately to be rid of the demonic influence, he will immediately get off track again. That is why God – out of His immeasurable love – allows the evil influence to depart gradually. That way, the person both “pays the price” and also stabilizes his spiritual state. The more he perseveres, the more that evil will recede. It will depend on him, just how quickly he will be rid of the evil influence. Once, a father approached me, whose child was demon possessed: “When will my child get well?” he asked me. “When you stabilize your own spiritual state, it too will be helped” I replied. The poor child – even though it was living spiritually, its father reacted inappropriately and kept telling the child that it would become insane if it didn’t change its ways. The father himself began to take the boy to brothels, after which, the child drifted away and became possessed. Whenever the demon overcame him, he would attack his mother with a savage predisposition. The poor mother was forced to flee to an island to save herself. The father had repented eventually and struggled to live spiritually, but the boy would not get well. After taking his son to all the pilgrimages and having learnt all the lives of Saints by heart and stabilized his condition, only then did the boy recover.

***

In fact, in certain possessed people who by nature are sensitive, the little imp tells them that they won’t be saved, and it leads them to suicide. How terrible! This is no mere matter!

Of course one might say that there are people who commit a whole pile of sins and don’t become demon-possessed; how can this be? Well, when a person has reached the point of total corruption, then he is not attacked by a demon, because God can see that he won’t be helped. We need to know that even an offensive by a demonic energy is – in a fashion – a gift of God to a sinning person, so that he might be humbled, repent and be saved.

Excerpt from Saint Paisios of Mount Athos : Spiritual Counsels, Vol. 2: Spiritual Awakening, translated into English and published in 2008 by Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece.

-Elder, why does God allow the devil to tease us?

– To choose His children.δαιμονισμένων των Γεργεσηνών [ή 'Γαδαρηνών'vindecarea_demonizatilor_din_tinutul_gherghesenilor_1HOMILY
About fasting and prayer
by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich

“This kind can come outby nothing, but prayerand fasting” (St. Mark 9:29).

This is the saving prescription of the greatest Physician of human souls. This is the remedy tried and proved. Another remedy for lunacy, there is not. What kind of sickness is that? That is the presence and dominance of an evil spirit in a man, a dangerous evil spirit who labors to eventually destroy the body and soul of man. The boy whom our Lord freed from an evil spirit; this evil spirit that had hurled him at times in the fire, at times in the water just in order to destroy him.

As long as a man only philosophizes about God he is weak and completely helpless against the evil spirit. The evil spirit ridicules the feeble sophistry of the world. But, as soon as a man begins to fast and to pray to God, the evil spirit becomes filled with indescribable fear. In no way can the evil spirit tolerate the aroma of prayer and fasting. The sweet-smelling aroma chokes him and weakens him to utter exhaustion. In a man who only philosophizes about faith, there is spacious room in him for the demons. But in a man who sincerely begins to pray to God and to fast with patience and hope, for the demon it becomes narrow and constricted and he must flee from such a man. Against certain bodily ills there exists only one remedy. Against the greatest ill of the soul, demonism, there exists two remedies, which must be utilized at one and the same time: fasting and prayer. The apostles and saints fasted and prayed to God. That is why they were so powerful against evil spirits.

O gracious Jesus, our Physician and Helper in all miseries, strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit that we may be able to adhere to Your saving precepts concerning fasting and prayer for the sake of our salvation and the salvation of our fellow men.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
http://prologue.orthodox.cn/February21.htm


“Come, little sparrow, come and eat!” Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Θαδδαίος της Βιτόβνιτσα_Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica_Старец Фаддей Витовницкий_свети Тадеј Витовнички__ВитовничкиAll the Holy Fathers lived a good life, a quiet life. All of hem say that the perfection of the Christian life is in extreme humility. This means that patient long-suffering is what we most need in this life. We must bear everything patiently and forgive all. If we have good thoughts and desires, these thoughts will give us peace and joy even in this life, and even more so in eternity. Then we will see that there no death, that the Lord has vanquished death, and that He has given us eternal life!

***

Look at the bee, how diligently it labors! It gives of itself without reserve, unsparingly. The lifespan of a bee is a month and a half at the most. It often dies working, without going back to its home, the hive. And we? How we pity ourselves and spare ourselves! Or, look at the ant who is never tired of dragging a heavy burden. Even when its burden falls down, the ant patiently picks it up and goes on with its work. As for us, we give up immediately if things do not go the way we want them to! (Source: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives by Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

***

Once, Father Thaddeus shared a meal at Vitovnica with a pious visitor from Belgrade. After the meal, the visitor noticed several breadcrumbs in the elder’s beard. When they had both risen from the table, he gently told Fr. Thaddeus that he ought to shake the crumbs from his beard, so that the other visitors would not see them and wonder what kind of monk he was. However, the elder only smiled and said, “It is a pity to throw these crumbs away, when the birds can feast on them!” Then he sat on a bench in the garden, leaned back in his seat, and called to a sparrow sitting on a nearby tree, “Come, little sparrow, come and eat!” The visitor saw with his own eyes how the sparrow flew down and settled on Fr. Thaddeus’ beard, pecking at it until it had eaten the last crumb.


Saint Sophrony of Essex: “I will act as if I had love.”

Κοίμησιν τῆς Θεοτόκου _Dormition of the Mother of God_ Успение Богородицы_72895. bфреска храма св. Николаяz_b9d4d2b2Saint Sophrony of Essex: “I will act as if I had love.”

One day, a man who was visiting Mount Athos asked several wise elders the following question: ‘What is the most important thing in your life?’
Each time he was answered like this: ‘It is divine love; to love God and to love one’s neighbour’.
He said: ‘I don’t have love, either for prayer, or for God, or for other people. What must I do?’
And then he decided by himself: ‘I will act as if I had this love’.
Thirty years later, the Holy Spirit gave him the grace of love.

***

Σωφρόνιος του Έσσεξ_Elder Sophrony of Essex_მამა სოფრონი_ Старец Софроний (Сахаров) Эссекс_e143431d7a577Acquiring the Love of God is the ultimate purpose of Christian asceticism.  Its achievement demands long and arduous travail. But by a gift from on High, one can experience a Divine visitation in great strength at times when the soul, in a burst of repentance for her sins, becomes receptive to the coming God.

       The way of the Lord is this: He manifests himself to man, and man apprehends His Love in the uncreated light, in timeless mode. I keep harping on the word “love” but ontologically it contains wisdom, not of this world, and grandeur infinite in its boundless humility, all-conquering beauty and deep peace. When this love touches man, God thereby makes him a participant in His Being, and this, there are no earthly worlds to describe. We are possessed by one single longing – to acquire this Divine Love in such fashion that it becomes our nature, forever inalienable.

       Love, the Flame of which Christ cast into the soul of man, possesses an amazing attribute. It will lead him into depths and heights inaccessible to anyone else. It will enable him to master suffering of all kinds, even death itself. Time and again it will hurl him into indescribable infinity where he will be “alone”, yearning to behold again the Light of the beloved God.

       Such is the process for cleansing our nature infected by the poison of Lucifer. The way of Christ leads from a relative, constantly vacillating type of existence to an absolute, unshakeable Kingdom.

Nothing but sacred love can cause the tears to flow from the Christian’s heart. The Scriptures write that Jesus “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13: 1). And only this “unto the end” can account for His sweat that fell like “great drops of blood” as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Where there is no love there are no tears, even when ascetic striving goes to extreme like exhaustive meditation, prolonged fasting, rigorous living conditions faraway from the rest of the world – of all of which both Western Christianity and the non-Christian East provide many instances.

       And it is just when the spirit of humility takes command of us that tears flow from the depths of our heart.

Excerpts of the book “We Shall See Him as He is” by Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov): On Spiritual Mourning

Apolytikion (First Tone)

In birth, you preserved your virginity; in death, you did not abandon the world, O Theotokos. As mother of life, you departed to the source of life, delivering our souls from death by your intercessions.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone

With the rivers of your tears, you have made the barren desert fertile. Through sighs of sorrow from deep within you, your labors have borne fruit a hundred-fold. By your miracles you have become a light, shining upon the world. O Sophrony, our Holy Father, pray to Christ our God, to save our souls.