Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Prayer of Elder Paisios for the World

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World (source)
  
Below is a beautiful prayer, written by Elder Paisios the Athonite, of Blessed Memory (+1994), for monastics to pray every evening on behalf of the world. This is meaningful because it underlines that the purpose of monasticism is not for monks or nuns to solely pray for themselves, but demonstrates to laypeople that their goal is to pray for and support the whole world. This also illustrates the great love that the Elder had and continues to have for all those who suffer from any trial or temptation throughout the world. He helped many multitudes of people on a daily basis through his prayer and instructions, and helps even more after his repose. Finally, as mentioned in the short introduction that I have also translated below, this could definitely be a suitable prayer for laypeople to say on a daily basis, helping us to entreat Christ on behalf of the whole world.
  
The love of Elder Paisios for the whole world is well-known. The Elder has helped a multitude of people, both before and after his repose.

From where did he receive the power to strengthen people, and to work miracles? From his fervent prayer to God.

The following prayer was given to a women's monastery which had asked him for some "typikon" for their vigils in their cells. This is from one of the last years of his life. In this can chiefly found his love for the whole world.

This can be used by each of the faithful, as it covers all cases of people who have need of prayer. Even children can understand it, and it is written in simple words, and thus can be read during the family's evening prayer.
  
Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Do not abandon Your servants who live far away from the Church. May Your love work to bring everyone near You.
Remember, O Lord, Your servants who are suffering from cancer,
Your servants who are suffering from small or great afflictions,
Your servants who are suffering from bodily disabilities,
Your servants who are suffering from spiritual disabilities.
Remember our rulers, and help them to govern in a Christian manner.
Remember, O Lord, the children who come from troubled families,
Troubled families and divorced couples.
Remember, O Lord, the orphans of the whole world, all those who are pained and unjustly treated in this life, and all those who have lost their spouses.
Remember, O Lord, all those in prison, anarchists, drug addicts, murders, evil-doers, thieves, and enlighten them and help them to be corrected.
Remember all immigrants,
All those who travel by sea, land, and air, and protect them.
Remember our Church, the Fathers (Clerics) of the Church and the Faithful.
Remember, O Lord, all Monastic Brotherhoods, men and women, Elders and Eldresses, and all brotherhoods and Athonite Fathers.
Remember, O Lord, Your servants who are in time of war,
All those who flee to the mountains and to the plains,
All those who are like endangered little birds.
Remember Your servants who have left their homes and their work and are suffering.
Remember, O Lord, the poor, the homeless, and refugees.
Remember, O Lord, all nations, and have them in Your arms, protecting them with Your Holy Protection, and keeping them from every evil and from war. And our beloved Greece***, keep in Your arms day and night, and protect it with Your Protection, keeping it from every evil and from war.
Remember, O Lord, the suffering, abandoned, wronged, and tested families, and richly give them Your mercy.
Remember Your servants who are suffering from spiritual and bodily problems of all nature.
Remember all those who are in despair, and help and give peace to them.
Remember, O Lord, Your servants who have asked of our prayers.
Remember, O Lord, all those who have reposed from all ages, and grant them repose.

From the book, "God is with us, are we with Him", by Orthodox Kypseli. (Amateur translation of text from Source)
  
***I do not believe it would be impious to also include a special prayer for your country or place of origin.
  
Icon of the Blessed Elder Paisios the Athonite (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

The Gifts of the Magi to be brought to Rhodes and Veria this December

The Abbot of St. Paul's Monastery, Mount Athos, recently bringing the Holy Gifts of the Magi to Russia (source)
 
I post this to inform everyone of this blessing to be able to venerate a portion of the gifts which the Magi offered to Christ. This is especially pertinent for women, children, and all those who may be unable to visit Mount Athos, because it is rare that such treasures of Orthodoxy leave the Holy Mountain.

This coming December, the Precious Gifts, which were brought during the nativity of Christ and which are preserved in the Holy Monastery of St. Paul on Mount athos, will be brought to the island of Rhodes [Greece].

The request for the visit of the Precious Gifts to Rhodes was undertaken by his Eminence, Metropolitan Kyrillos, and took place in order to give the faithful the opportunity to venerate them a few days before the great feast of the nativity of the God-Man.
(source)

Also note that Precious Gifts will be present in Veria (Beroia) (Northern Greece, close to Thessaloniki) from December 16th to December 21st for veneration in the Metropolis Church.
(source)
 
A portion of the Holy Gifts which the Magi offered to Christ at His Nativity: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. They are currently treasured by the Holy Monastery of St. Paul on Mount Athos. For more information on them, see here.
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Monday, December 15, 2014

St.Tikhon of Zadonsk: "For whose sake did Christ come into the world? For the sake of sinners."

The Nativity of Christ, detail (source)
  
The very incarnation of the Son of God and His coming into the world strongly encourages sinners to repentance. For whose sake did Christ come into the world? For the sake of sinners. To what end? For the sake of their salvation. O how dear to God was our salvation! He Himself came into the world, O sinners, for the sake of our salvation.
  
Listen, sinners, and understand! God Himself came into the world for the sake of our salvation, and He came in our image. O truly great is the mystery of piety! God appeared in the flesh. "Lord, what is man, that Thou art made known unto him? Or the son of man, that Thou takest account of him?" (LXX-Ps. 143:3 [KJV-Ps. 144:3]).
  
Truly wonderful is the grace of God toward man, wonderful also is this work of His. Foreseeing this the prophet cried out to Him with fear and terror, "Lord, I have heard Thy report, and I was afraid; O Lord, I considered Thy works, and I was amazed" (Abbac. 3:1-2). Sinners, let us call to mind this great work of God, which He wrought for our sake, and let us repent. Let us remember how for our sake He was born of a Virgin and became a child, and was nourished on His mother's milk. The Invisible became manifest, and He that was without beginning had a beginning, and He that was intangible became tangible and was wrapped as an infant in swaddling bands: "And the Word was made flesh" (Jn. 1:14).
  
Let us recall how while yet a child He fled from the murderers of Herod the King. Let us recall how He lived on earth and was a stranger, how He went from place to place, and labored for the sake of our salvation. Let us recall how He Who is unapproachable to the Cherubim and Seraphim kept company with sinners; How He who has Heaven as His throne and the earth as the footstool of His feet and Who abides in light unapproachable, had nowhere to lay His head; How He who was rich became poor, that by His poverty we may become rich.
  
Let us recall how He who clothes Himself with light as with a garment, put on the garment of corruption. How He Who gives food to all flesh ate earthly bread. How the Almighty became weak, and He that gives strength to all did labor.
  
Let us recall how He Who is above all honor and glory, was blasphemed, cursed, and mocked by the lips of transgressors.
  
Let us recall how He ailed, suffered, sorrowed, wept, and was filled with horror. Let us recall how He was sold and betrayed by an ungrateful disciple and was forsaken by the rest of the disciples; how He was bound and brought to trial; how He was judged by transgressors. He was reviled. He was scourged. He was clad in the robe of mockery, He was mockingly hailed as King, "Hail, King of the Jews!" (Jn. 19:3). He was crowned with a crown of thorns, beaten on the head with a reed, He heard from His lawless people, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him" (Jn. 19:15). He was led to crucifixion between two evildoers and died on the Cross.
  
All these things the Son of God did for the sake of our salvation. O sinners, in Adam we lost our salvation and all our blessedness, but Christ, the Son of God, by the good will of His Heavenly Father, has brought it all back to us. Let us, then, consider, O sinners, whether the very Blood of Christ, shed for the sake of our salvation, and all His Suffering do not cry out to us. Let us repent and so let us not be deprived of eternal salvation, for without repentance there is no salvation for anyone, but nevertheless the wretched sinner still does not understand.
  
God loves man so much that He revealed His wonderful providence for him that he should repent and so be saved, but the sinner still does not understand.
  
Christ the Son of God shows him His coming into the world for his sake, in the Gospel. He presents to him His willing self-emptying, His willing poverty, His willing and deep humility, His labors, pains, tribulations, sorrows, sufferings and death, and even a death on the Cross. And He says to him, "Man, I took all this on Myself and endured it for your sake and for your salvation. But you neglect your salvation, and take no thought that you should repent and cease from your sins, to make use of My Blood and live."
  
But the sinner, even though he hears this so plaintive and sweet voice of Christ in the Gospel, nevertheless still does not understand. Christ promises not to remember his sins and transgressions when he turns to Him, but the sinner still does not understand. Christ calls him to Himself and promises him rest, but the sinner does not understand. He remains uncorrected as he was and transgresses as he transgressed before. He commits evil deeds, as he did before; he loves darkness as he loved it before; he hates the light as he hated it before; and for this reason he does not come to the Light, but remains with the devil, the prince of darkness.
  
O poor sinner, awaken and come to your senses. If you do not, the very Blood of Christ shed for your sake will cry out against you for retribution. Listen to what the prophet of God sings to you in the person of God, "I will reprove thee, and bring thy sins before thy face" (LXX-Ps. 49:21 [KJV-Ps. 50:21]); that is, all your evil deeds, words, thoughts, intentions and undertakings will follow you into the next world and will appear at the universal Judgment of Christ, and you shall receive your just reward for them. You do not wish now to repent to your benefit, and so be saved by the grace of Christ; then you shall repent, but too late and in vain. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14). Blessed be God above all forever.
  
Set your salvation on nothing else but on Christ Jesus alone, the Saviour of the world. If you truly believe that He suffered and died for you and is your Saviour, then love him with all your heart, obey Him and please Him, as your Saviour, and lay and confirm all your hope of salvation on Him alone. We must unfailingly do good works as Christians, but we must ask and await salvation from Christ alone.
  
from: Journey to Heaven Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and Elets Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004. (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, December 5, 2014

St. Nicholas helping the Poor Couple

St. Nicholas the Wonderworker (source)
  
There was a couple in Constantinople who had always had a special love for Saint Nicholas. Each feast day they celebrated with special food, wine, holy bread, and candles. Now that they were old, and no longer able to work, they were very poor. The man asked his wife how they could get money to buy what was needed. She took an old carpet, saying, "Here is our last posession. Sell it and then buy all we need to show our gratitude to God and Saint Nicholas." The old man took the rug and set off to the marketplace.
Arriving at the market, a distinguised looking nobleman asked how much the rug cost. The man told him what it cost when new, saying he'd take whatever he could get for it. The nobleman gave him six gold pieces—much more than the man expected—took the rug and left. People near the man were puzzled as he seemed to be talking to himself. After purchasing the needed items, the man headed home.
Meanwhile, back at the house, a distinguished looking man approached the woman, "Take this rug. Your husband is an old friend of mine and I met him at the marketplace today." And he gave her the carpet.
When the man returned, his wife accused him of not selling the carpet, "How could you break your promise and not sell this rug?" "Who gave the rug to you?" he asked. She described the man, and he realized it was the same person who'd bought the rug. The man, realizing it must have been a miracle, exclaimed, "The Lord liveth! The man who bought the carpet from me and brought it back to our poor home, is indeed St. Nicholas, for a man saw me talking to him and asked if I saw an apparition, for the saint was invisible." He showed his wife what he'd bought—food, wine, holy bread, candles—and the left-over money.
Rejoicing, they hurried to the church of St. Nicholas to tell the Patriarch all that had happened. After hearing the story, the Patriarch gave the couple a generous life pension. They returned home for a fine St. Nicholas feast with hymn singing and prayers of thanksgiving.
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Excerpt from the Encomium to St. Barbara by St. John of Damascus

St. Barbara the Great Martyr (source)
  
Excerpt from the Encomium to St. Barbara by St. John of Damascus (amateur translation)
...But to me, you are a lamb of Christ, and dove, and bride, and every other name that is good, and grace-filled, and precious. Rejoice, for you bravely passed through the paths of struggles. Rejoice, for you worthily partake of the spoils of your struggles. Rejoice, for you were granted many rewards for your struggles. Rejoice, for you kept the passionate body and the racing thoughts in chastity. Rejoice, for you preserved your senses from a young age, and were trained with a proper mind. Rejoice, you who kept virginity before your martyrdom, preserving yourself, having been presented to Christ as spotless and undefiled. Rejoice, you who did not soil your bodily beauty by the passions, but kept it untouched and offered to the Creator. Rejoice, you who in the tower, as in a secure fortress, kept virgins supported, strong and untouched, offering up prayers to God, and ascribing the theoria of things that exist to the Creator unerringly, you were nourished alone by the good and beloved. Rejoice, you who at the waters purifying bodily stain [the bathhouse], symbolized the Trinity through the depicting of three sources of light, thus depicting the three-fold giving of mystical and saving light, depicting baptism. Rejoice, you who forthrightly and boldly confessed the consubstantial Trinity with a most theological mouth. Rejoice, you who boldly preached the One of the Holy Trinity Who took on flesh for our salvation. Rejoice, you who trampled upon the wealth and nourishment, and royal garments, and gold and pearls, and every bodily adornment and beauty, and the joys of this world, and therefore inherited instead the eternal good and unspeakable things, that surpass the vision of the eyes, and the hearing of the ears, and every sense and thought. Rejoice, you who at a young age and weak gender, bravely and manfully were strong with all of your mind. Rejoice, you who were not worried by tortures or blows, but bravely went towards every type of unique and twisted torture. Rejoice, you who in the flesh were made worthy to behold the glory of Christ, as the First-ranked of the Disciples did on the mountain [Tabor], and beheld, as did Elias and Moses, who stood by Him blessing Him. Rejoice, for you endured the pains of scourging, and the burning of iron, and being pierced with a garment of hair, and the shedding of streams of your blood, and the flames of fire, and the cutting off of your members, and being paraded naked, and the removal of your head and of your life, all on behalf of Christ, that your body might therefore receive the shining rays of undying incorruption, and the unspeakable and incomparable woven robe of glory. At your righteous endurance, men were amazed, and angels, beholding the struggle, clapped their hands, and sang hymns, while the demons, at this hymnody, were struck with a state of fear, and shame, and wailed of their eternal shame. O you the adornment and sanctity of the female gender, which having beheld the manliness of your struggles, takes courage and is benefited! In you, the fore-mother makes boast, as one of her daughters struggles straightaway with the enemy dragon, and trampled upon him, calling up and bearing the radiant trophies of victory. You were like the Theotokos, the holy of holies and fore-mother, the Virgin and Mother of God, who is first among women and only glorified, more than all men and women, and who reigns in heaven and on earth, as the Mother of Him Who rules over all things...
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

St. Porphyrios on the Fragrance of Prayer

Entering an Orthodox Church on Cyprus (source)
  
Once we visited the Monastery of Vella, and entered an old church with frescoes. We were amazed at them, while [St. Porphyrios] disappeared into the holy altar. I was by myself in the one aisle, and the rest in the other. In a short time I sensed a fragrance...The church was old and did not function anymore. As time passed, the fragrance got stronger. I looked around. I noticed that it was the strongest towards the holy altar. "Ah, I understand," I thought, "The Elder lit a charcoal and put on some incense."

When he exited the altar, I told him unprompted: "That charcoal you lit, Elder, it smells very beautiful."

He looked at me with a strange smile. "No," he told me, "I didn't light anything!"

Later, he told us: "When I enter the altar of a church, however, I pray. And I sense all of the prayers that had occurred there. This happened a short time ago in the altar. I prayed, and A. sensed it. Don't we say that prayer rises to God like incense?"

At St. Ierotheos I experienced the same thing. There, as soon as we exited the church with the Elder and got in the car and drove away from the church, there came a wave of fragrance. The Elder said with a smile, without anyone asking him: "This was a special blessing of the Saint."
  
(amateur translation of text from source: Άγιος Πορφύριος http://www.porphyrios.net/?p=2345)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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!