Sunday, November 23, 2014

St. Porphyrios: "Difficult times are coming, and the world will need help from the monasteries.”

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
“In the spring of 1985,” relates Abbess Theodosia of the Holy Monastery of Saints Theodore, Kalavryta, “I was at our monastery, and one night around 2:30AM I heard outside the window of my cell, in the monastery courtyard, that someone was digging. To confirm this, I blew out the light in my cell, and I looked out the window. I saw the flashes of a flashlight. Then I prayed to our wonderworking Saints to protect us.
I checked the windows and secured the doors to the courtyard of the deserted monastery, so that no one would be able to enter, and as I confirmed that the area was silent, I returned to my cell.
In the morning, we had a special liturgy. At the time that I was getting ready to go to church, around 5:55AM, the telephone rang. I thought that this was maybe some pained soul with some problem—something which occurs frequently—so I picked up the phone. To my great astonishment I heard:
“Listen, my child, this is Elder Porphyrios. Don't go outside when you hear them digging, they will attack you. Infernal people are surrounding your monastery.”
I asked him: “Elder, why are they digging? Did they find anything?”
He answered: “No, my child, it was taken by others earlier.”
I asked him again: “Elder, have you ever been to our monastery?”
He replied to me: “No, my child, but now I am there. Ask me whatever you want.”
Taking advantage of the opportunity, I asked him of the historical significance of the caves at our monastery. He replied: “Which caves? Because there are two caves near you. The one where the first nuns stayed?”
I replied: “Yes, Elder.”
He told me: “It would be good, my child, to do that, because the cave is holy. But will the villagers allow you? They will protest.”
I remained on the phone, without speaking due to my astonishment, because he spoke to me about real events. It should be noted that there are truly two caves, but we had not seen the second cave until we were in the monastery for over a year. The shepherds of the area had told us that there was a second cave.
That time when I remained speechless, with the phone in hand, I heard the Elder tell me: “Fish, O Abbess, fish!”
I asked him: “What fish, Elder?”
“My child.” he told me, “isn't the water in those springs perfect for fish? Put some fish in there, so that the people can eat. Difficult times are coming!”
In truly, when we came to the monastery, I tested the chemical status of the water that ran from two springs within the courtyard of the monastery to see if it was potable and correspondingly if it could support fish, to support the needs of the monastery and for the pilgrims that we show hospitality to. Truly, the water was clean, and corresponding to raising fish...
The presence of Elder Porphyrios, I sensed clearly, because in every dilemma that we would face, he was with us and gave us a solution. Once, he told me over the phone: “My child, you have a great struggle, but don't be afraid, I am praying with you every night.”
It should be noted that I had never met the Elder, nor had I ever seen him. I only had heard of his gift of foresight from others, but neither had I ever called him over the phone. I was astonished as to how he knew our problems and how he found our telephone number. Because of this, I called the Abbess of another monastery who knew the Elder, and I asked her: “Did you, by any chance, O Abbess, give our number to Elder Porphyrios?”
She replied” “Did I need to give it to him? The mind of Fr. Porphyrios is a [spiritual] television.”
Once, I and some of the sisters of our monastery were visiting another monastery. Elder Porphyrios, because it was a pertinent and important matter, called there, and asked for me, saying: “My child, the five men that want to be witnesses against the monastery's property, let them go to court. The truth must be heard, and they must know that this belongs to the monastery, because difficult times are coming, and the world will need help from the monasteries.”
In reality, five older individuals, who were very generous to the monastery, sought the truth regarding an injustice that had been done at the expense of the monastery. Thus, the monastery was justified.”
From the book: Elder Porphyrios, the Spiritual Father and Teacher.
Amateur translation of text from source.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

St. Luke of Simferopol on the Fragrance of Christ

Icon of the Theotokos and Christ, the "Unfading Rose" (source)
The rose does not speak, but puts forth a strong fragrance. We too, should put forth fragrance, pour forth spiritual fragrance, the fragrance of Christ. The fragrance of our deeds should be heard from far around: good, pure, and righteous deeds, full of love. Only thus can the Kingdom of God appear within our hearts, appearing not through words, but with power. Amen.
-St. Luke of Simferopol
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis on Fasting

St. John the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ, who fasted his entire life in the desert (source)
"Fasting is a commandment of God. Because of this, we should also fast, my children. I have not neglected fasting in my 70 years. My mother taught me fasting from childhood. I am not being a hypocrite, my children, when I fast, but I am doing that which my parents taught me and that which I keep until today, my children. Fasting has never brought sickness upon me.

Physicians and Bishops say that frugal fasting is very beneficial to man. Once, a doctor told me: "Father, don't eat for five days, nor even drink a drop of water, because we will do a test to see what is going on with your body." Therefore I fasted for five days. It had done great things to me. How much more are we benefited when we fast for our soul! Because within our body inhabits an eternal soul. Therefore, let us take care for our soul, which is truly an immortal thing.

Let us fast, my children, do not listen to those who say that fasting is nothing, and that this is something from monks. This is not from monks, my children, forgive me, God says this. The first commandment of God is fasting, and our Christ fasted.

We can say that we are fasting, and eat so much. Now, what fasting are we doing, my children? When we eat, forgive me, so much food, even if it is without oil. It is sufficient that man have his health and the desire to fast.

Once, someone came to me and said: "My priest, they told me that fasting doesn't exist." "And who told you that there was no fasting? Go tell the Priest to open the Bible and see that which discusses fasting: 'without prayer and fasting' (Matthew 17:21, Mark 9:29), which our Christ says, and other things.' And the demons, and sicknesses, and all the passions are cast out with fasting. The Holy Forerunner, what did he eat in the desert? What did the Venerable David eat? With an antidoron, he passed the whole week in his cell of asceticism."
-Elder Iakovos Tsalikis of Evia
(amateur translation of text from source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Byzantine Christmas Carol: "The Beginningless God descended..."

The Nativity of Christ (source)

As we are beginning the Advent season, I pray that this may be a time when we might all draw closer to the Lord, Who is coming to save us.

I came across this Byzantine Christmas carol, originally from Pontos of Asia Minor, "Anarchos Theos Kataveviken" ("The Beginningless God descended..."), and I thought to share a translation of such a beautiful and theological and moving carol (sung with Byzantine chant and instruments, but not at all used liturgically). May the Lord, Who is coming to be born in the flesh for our salvation, have mercy on us all and save us!

(Greek text)
Άναρχος Θεός καταβέβηκεν και εν τη Παρθένω κατώκησεν
Βασιλεύς των όλων και Κύριος, ήλθε τον Αδάμ αναπλάσασθαί
Γηγενείς σκιρτάτε και χαίρεσθε, τάξεις των αγγέλων ευφραίνεσθε
Δέξαι Βηθλεεμ τον Δεσπότην σου, Βασιλέα πάντω και Κύριον
Εξ ανατολών Μάγοι έρχονται, δώρα προσκομίζοντες άξια
Ζητούν προσκυνήσαι τον Κύριον, τον εν τω σπηλαίω τικτόμενον
Ήνεγγεν αστήρν μάγους οδηγών, ένδον του σπηλαίου εκόμισεν
Θεός, βασιλεύς προαιώνιος, τίκτεται εκ κόρης Θεόπαιδος
Ιδών ο Ηρώδης ως έμαθεν, όλω εξεπλάγη ο δείλαιος
Κράζει και βοά προς τους ιερείς, τους δοξολογούντας τον Κύριον
Λέγετε σοφοί και διδάκαλοι άρα που γεννάται ο Κύριος;
Μέγα και φρικτόν το τεράστιον, ο εν ουρανοίς επεδήμησεν
Νύκτα Ιωσήφ ρήμα ήκουσε, άγγελος Κυρίου ελάλησεν
Ξένον και παράδοξον άκουσμα και η συγκατάβασις άρρητος
Ο μακροθυμίσας και εύσπλαχνος, πάντων υπομένει τα πταίσματα
Πάλιν ουρανοί ανεώχθησαν άγγλοι αυτού ανυμνήτωσαν
Ρήτορες ελθόντες προσέπεσον βασιλέα μέγαν και ένδοξον
Σήμερον η κτίσις αγάλλεται και πανηγύρίζει κι ευφραίνεται
Τάξεις των αγγέλων εξέστησαν επί το παράδοξον θέαμα
Ύμνους και δεήσεις ανέμελπον των πάντων δεσπότην και άνακτα
Φως εν τω σπηλαίω ανέτειλε και τοις εν τω σκότει επέλαμψε
Χαίρουσα η φύσις αγάλλεται και πανηγυρίζει κι ευφραίνεται
Ψάλλοντες Χριστόν, τον Θεόν ημών, τον εν τω σπηλαίω τικτόμενον
Ω Παρθενομήτορ και Δέσποινα, σώζε του εις Σε καταφεύγοντας.
(amateur translation of the above text)
The Beginningless God descended, and dwelt in the Virgin.
Erouem, erouem, erou erou erouem.
Hail, O Spotless One.
(repeated after each verse)
The King and Lord of all, came to refashion Adam.
O men of earth, dance and rejoice, and you ranks of the Angels be glad.
Receive, O Bethlehem, your Master, the King and Lord of all.
Magi are coming from the east, to offer Him worthy gifts.
They seek to worship the Lord, Who is born in the cave.
God, the King before the ages, is carried within the cave.
Behold, Herod having learned of this, was utterly astonished, the wretched man.
He cries out and screams towards the priests, who are glorifying the Lord:
“Say, O you wise ones and teachers, where is the Lord being born?”
O great and awesome wonder, for He Who is in the heavens, departs them.
At night, Joseph heard the angel of the Lord speak.
O strange and paradoxical hearing, and unspeakable condescension.
He Who is forbearing and compassionate, endures the offenses of all.
Again, the heavens are opened, and angels hymn Him.
Rhetors have come, and fell down before the great and glorious King.
Today, creation exalts and celebrates and rejoices.
The ranks of the angels are astonished at the paradoxical sight.
Hymns and entreaties they offer to the Master and Ruler of all.
A Light has dawned in the cave, enlightening those in darkness.
Nature rejoices and exalts, and celebrates and is glad.
Let us chant unto Christ our God, Who is born in the cave.
O Virgin-Mother and Lady, save those who have taken refuge in you.
Children depicted singing Greek folk songs door to door (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

A recent appearance of the Theotokos on Mount Athos

The wondrous icon of Panagia Pantanassa, from the Katholikon of the Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos (source)
Mr. K.P. had gone to the Holy Mountain, and was shown hospitality by the fathers of the Holy and Great Monastery of Vatopedi. On October 26th 2014, he asked the fathers there if he could go to confession. The fathers told him that the next day, which was Monday morning, he could go.

On October 27th, 2014, at 4AM, the Orthros service began, and he went down to the Church, and having venerated the icons, went and sat down. The church had many people in it, and at the stall where he went, he sat next to one man, but the other side was empty.

He waited patiently, but the time was passing, and the monk had not appeared who would have led him to the confessor. Around 4:20AM, he turns around, and sees next to him, in the formerly empty stall, a nun! The nun approached him and said: "Wait, everything will go well, you will confess. Don't worry, just wait a little."

He thought that most likely, the large monasteries had some nun there to help in the church. A short time passed, and the impatient man thought that he would leave to find someone to take him to confession. It was around 4:45AM when he planned to leave. He took a step, and again he saw the nun approach him, grab him by the shoulder, and lightly turn him back towards his stall. And she told him: "I told you to be patient and wait...Now the Six Psalms are finishing, and the monk will come to take you to the confessor for you to confess."

In reality, after two minutes, the monk came to lead him to the confessor. K.P. did not say anything to that monk because he was suspicious. In reality, when he reached the confessor, having spoken a bit, K.P. told him:
"It's good that you had that nun there to strengthen me to be patient and wait..."

"What nun are you talking about, blessed one? There are no nuns here. This is the Holy Mountain, women and nuns aren't allowed!"

"But, I spoke with her twice!"

The spiritual father replied: "You spoke with our Panagia, but you didn't realize it, my child!"

Then the confessor asked him to describe her. K.P. said: "She was tall, around 30-35 years of age, and very beautiful!"
(amateur translation of text from source)
Most-holy Theotokos, save us!

Monday, November 10, 2014

St. Porphyrios on the Jesus Prayer

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
"And what are you looking for regarding prayer, like a recipe to prepare food or medicine? I told you to only seek the salvation of your soul.

In other words, you should try to become an inheritor of the eternal Kingdom of the Heavens. And everything else you should leave to the judgment of God. I remind you, again, to "seek first the Kingdom of the Heavens."

Is this not enough for you? If this is not enough for you, or if you are not satisfied completely, restrict yourself to noetic prayer. For me, the "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me", says everything. And whatever else from that which you are saying. It is enough to say it with faith and determination.

And of course, at that hour, perceive that you have before you, the crucified Jesus. And listen. The hour that you saw it, turn your nous here, towards me. And I will understand your thought, and will pray with you for you. This is the best. I recommend you to do this...

Why do you separate yourself from the rest of the world? This is not at all correct. When we love ourselves, thus we must love our neighbor. I love the whole world as myself. Because of this, I see no reason to say: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us" and not "have mercy on me". Because the world and I are one and the same! Thus you say: "have mercy on me".
Source: Theology and Miracles of Noetic Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" (amateur translation of text from: source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Poem of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker: "O Divine Love"

St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, Bishop of Pentapolis (source)
A Poem of St. Nektarios the Wonderworker: "O Divine Love"
O Divine Love, come, I entreat you,
From all my soul and within my heart,
And a divine dwelling-place, O Christ, make me
And from every stain, O cleanse me.
O Divine Love, godly love
I ask You to fill my soul
With divine eros. O Divine Love,
Fervently I entreat you, to grant to me, Your servant.
O Divine Love, I entreat You,
To grant love to those who ask of You,
For Your love is to fulfull
Your Divine Law, O sweet Love.
O Divine Love, who alone fills
The whole world and preserves it,
You are the law of the heavens,
You are the law of the earthly.
Your Kingdom is love,
In which reigns joy and peace,
In which reigns blessedness,
The eros of the Divine and rejoicing.
(amateur translation of text from source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!