Saturday, November 30, 2013

A wondrous appearing and healing of St. Porphyrios

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (icon from the chapel of Kovil Monastery, Serbia) (source)
   
In the book, "Taxideuontas sta teixe tes poles" ("Traveling the walls of the city"), Nun Porphyria mentions a wondrous appearance and a great miracle of [Saint] Porphyrios, which shows that life continues after death, and teaches us that we should never loose hope, for God is All-Good and All-Powerful.
  
It was 2PM, and I was in the Square "Agion Anargyron" of Athens.

I was stopped at a light facing Athens. A man approached me..."Can you take me to Menidi?"

"No," I replied, "I can't." I couldn't because at 3PM I had to take the taxi towards Pireus.

The man stood in front of me, and was waiting for another taxi to pass by. Something within me said that I should help him. I made a sign for him to come over. As soon as he entered the taxi, he exclaimed: "It's impossible!" And he took the photograph of Elder Porphyrios [that I had in the taxi] in his hands, and kissed it. At that instant, the light changed, and I turned to head towards Menidi. I wanted to take back the photograph, but when I saw how much he looked at it with longing, I regretted my thought.

"Do you know him?" He asked me.
"No, but from his books I got to know him and love him very much."
"Do you want, my lady, to hear how I got to know him?"
"Of course" I replied with joy.
"I heard that my wife was gravely sick, with cancer. The doctors gave her three months to live. During that time, my oldest son was finishing high school. And he told us that he had arranged to go with ten of his fellow students to Mount Athos for a week. We said it was alright; the children left.

"In the meantime, my wife took a turn for the worse. The doctor that was following her told us that the end was near. We asked him in anguish: 'Doctor, what can we do to give her a little more life?' He replied: 'We can do a surgery, and may God help!' he replied. I agreed, and my wife consented, because she wanted to remain until our son returned.

"My son returned so happy, so joyous, like we had never seen him before. He told us how beautiful it was there, and how warmly the monks received them, and how much peace he sensed within his soul. He said that he sensed the presence of God so much that he had forgot that his mother was sick. She was reminded, when Elder Porphyrios appeared before him. He told us some wondrous things about Elder Porphyrios, which appeared unbelievable to us."

"Excuse me," I interjected, "When did this occur?"
"This occured in 1996.

"All the children were sitting below a tree, and speaking and laughing, when straightaway a monk approached them. They stood up and kissed his hand, and the Elder began to say each child's name. As you could image, the children were surprised that he knew their names and families. To my son he said: 'Tell your mother to not have surgery, she's all better!'


"'You know her?' he asked.
"'I know her, I know all of you!'
"'Who are you?' they asked.
"'I am Elder Porphyrios' he said, and he left.

"During their return from the Holy Mountain they stopped in Ouranoupolis at a drug store to buy aspirin, for they were seasick and nauseous. Entering the pharmacy, they saw a photograph of Elder Porphyrios and said: "There is the Elder Porphyrios we saw on the Holy Mountain!" As soon as the pharmacist saw this, he was confused.

"'I'm sorry, children, you saw this Elder on Mount Athos? Are you sure?'
"'Of course we're sure,' they replied, 'we all talked with him. And of course we were surprised that he knew our names and our families. When we asked him who he was, he replied that he was Elder Porphyrios.'
"'Children, I'm sure that you saw him, but...Don't be alarmed when I tell you...The Elder has been dead for five years!'
"The children were shocked! 'Impossible!' they said, we just were speaking to him!'

"And my wife and I believed that they saw someone else, who looked like him and called himself Porphyrios. Because all monks resemble each other.

"'You don't believe me, eh? In any case, he said that you should not get the surgery, because you are well,' the child said to his mother. Two days later, we went to the hospital. The next morning, the surgery would have taken place. The time came, and though I was waiting with anguish outside the operating room, right away, I saw my wife come out. I ran near her and asked: 'What happened?'
"'I'm not getting an operation, I am well!'

"The doctor came out from behind her. 'What happened, Doctor?'
"'I don't know, she doesn't want to get the operation!'
"'I told you," she said, 'I am better!'
"'Honey, are you crazy?' I took her in my arms and tried to convince her that she needed the surgery. She replied: 'I told you that I feel better. Do the tests and you will see that I am better, I feel it!'

"'Great!' said the doctor, 'Let's not force her, if she is feeling well.'
"'You don't believe? Great! Do your tests to confirm this.'

"In reality, the tests were run. The next day the results came back, and the doctor took on a grave appearance."'What did the tests show?' we asked him. It was as if the sickness had never touched her! The doctors looked at the old tests and the new ones, and were going crazy! It's impossible, and they said they would have to order new ones the next day, they said in surprise.

"When my son came, and saw the doctors ordering more tests, he told me: 'Why don't you believe that which Elder Porphyrios said on Mount Athos?'
"Then, the doctor said: 'What did you say? Did you mention Elder Porphyrios?'
"'He said that my mom is well and should not get the surgery!'

"The doctor pulled out a photograph of Elder Porphyrios from his pocket. 'You saw him, my boy, on Mount Athos?'

"'Yes, him!'

"'The tests are correct! Your wife is well, and now you can leave for sure! Go get ready!'

"The doctors had given my wife three months to live. Two years have passed since then, and she is much better than she was before her sickness. Because of this, I love Elder Porphyrios very much. We have been to the Monastery many times. And whenever we have difficulties, he strengthens us."

This man's story of another miracle of our Elder, gave me great joy. The only thing that I whispered as the man departed was: "Thank you."
(Amateur translation of the 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 28, 2013

Akathist to St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (Kafsokalivia) - Commemorated December 2 (source)
  
Note: The following is an amateur translation from the Greek text, and as such, I request reviewing the translation before any public / liturgical use. Also note that the meter of this translation is not set to match the original music.
  
Akathist to our Venerable and God-bearing Father Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, the Clairvoyant and Wonderworker
   
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone.
The most-holy temple of the Comforter,
And the beloved of the All-Pure Theotokos,
Let us praise Porphyrios from our heart,
For he loves and heals all, and protects,
And intercedes, that we be granted theosis.
Therefore, we cry out:
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You lived unknown and hidden in the world,
O shepherd of the Father's sheep.
And having meditated on the life
Of St. John Kalyvites, with zeal you hastened,
O venerable one, to imitate his life.
Therefore, we cry out to you these:
Hail, O shepherd of the rational sheep,
Hail, O source of healing for the passions.
Hail, the fervent friend of purity,
Hail, the godly mystic of the ineffable.
Hail, most-pure vessel of the monastery of the Spirit,
Hail, organ equaling a divine river of grace.
Hail, for you are a guide to men,
Hail, for you guide athletes in their struggles.
Hail, star giving the light of the mysteries,
Hail, you who taught us the things of salvation.
Hail, the glorious offspring of Evia,
Hail, you through whom we are delivered from pain.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You followed the steps of your Elders in asceticism,
And shared their way of life.
You were an ascetic of Kavsokalyvia,
And showed them unquestioning obedience,
Being taught humility by God,
As those who venerate you chant:
Alleluia.

Unspeakable knowledge was given
To you by God, O Father,
As a reward for your holy life.
And you lead towards healings of the passions,
And grant knowledge of mysteries,
Being shown a benefactor to men,
To those that cry out thusly:
Hail, the mystic of divine knowledge,
Hail, the lover of the holy life.
Hail, messenger of the thoughts of God,
Hail, equal to the athletes of Christ.
Hail, most-pure eye that probes hidden things,
Hail, most-holy mouth that studies mysteries.
Hail, the sacred adornment of priests,
Hail, the beauty of those who struggle on Athos.
Hail, you who grants help to many,
Hail, you who speaks to us the truth.
Hail, O wise physician of illnesses,
Hail, O spring of healings of the soul.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

As a novice, you wrestled with Belial,
And crushed him through your humility.
And receiving the reward of victory,
You were sent into the world as a help, O Venerable One,
Shepherding and healing those who cry out in thanksgiving:
Alleluia.

Bearing graces in your soul, O Father,
You hastened towards your fatherland.
And you lived in the Monastery of St. Charalampos,
Striving in asceticism and serving, O Venerable One,
Healing those who suffer,
As they chant these with joy:
Hail, the joy of all Evia,
Hail, the fruit of much piety.
Hail, you who studied the mysteries of consciences,
Hail, you who dissolved strands of confusion.
Hail, O heavenly man, who lived on earth humbly,
Hail, O earthly angel, for whom heaven rejoices.
Hail, for you dissipate the bitterness of hearts,
Hail, for you grant joy and hope.
Hail, partaker of the choirs of the angels,
Hail, fellow-partaker of joy and sorrow.
Hail, God's blessing towards us,
Hail, our joy and health.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

Being zealous, O godly-minded one,
To bring back many to the flock of Christ to be saved,
You came to Athens humbly,
And serving in a church,
You saved many, who take refuge in you,
Crying out to the Lord:
Alleluia.

You came to Omonia Square
To redeem all,
As an angel dwelling in Babylon.
And you became for the Athenians,
The Physician and guide of all, O venerable one,
Leading many to Christ,
As those who were saved cry out thus:
Hail, you through whom Christ is hymned,
Hail, you through whom the enemy is made fearful.
Hail, the boast of the Church of Greece,
Hail, the radiant diadem of Evia.
Hail, for you always kept your heart pure,
Hail, for you were made worthy to see behold mysteries.
Hail, you who surpassed struggles as victorious,
Hail, you who walked the path of sorrows.
Hail, for you were greatly exalted by humility,
Hail, for you made the simple wise with divine knowledge.
Hail, to whom the Athenians take refuge,
Hail, through whom many return to Christ.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You worked hidden wonders for the sick,
Through your divine prayers, O all-blessed one.
And those healings you attributed
To St. Gerasimos, thus remaining humble, O venerable one.
Through your humility
You gave glory to Christ, crying out:
Alleluia.

You were shown a breeze of fragrant myrrh,
Exhaled through the world,
O most-venerable Father.
And you gladdened the multitudes of the faithful,
Who embrace you with faith,
And cry out with joy such things:
Hail, you who supported many in the faith,
Hail, you who sowed love among the faithful.
Hail, the perfect type of priests,
Hail, the spotless canon of piety.
Hail, flower of Paradise that bloomed upon the earth,
Hail, deeply flowing river of compassion and love.
Hail, the humble servant of the Church,
Hail, he who prays for those in pain and dangers.
Hail, noble dwelling-place of grace,
Hail, radiant substenance of the faithful.
Hail, home of God the King,
Hail, he who adorned many with piety.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You loved the whole world, though you had denied all
Joys and ideas of the world.
A true mystic in the heavens,
you served all with joy,
And sactified all through your prayers,
And teaching all to chant:
Alleluia.

You shone upon all like the sun, O Father,
And your sacred head,
Was visited by God,
And through grace, you worked healings for those who are sick,
Who then chant to you:
Hail, you who were fashioned with the Taborean light,
Hail, you who tasted of the heavenly light.
Hail, the most-reverent priest of Christ,
Hail, most-strict keeper of the commandments.
Hail, dwelling of simplicity and godly love,
Hail, you who were fulled with mystical theoria.
Hail, you who appeared as the lamp of purity,
Hail, for you were shown a partaker of dispassion.
Hail, you who spread joy to all,
Hail, you who greatly loved Christ.
Hail, you who ever intercedes to God,
Hail, you who entreats the Pure Virgin.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You were shown forth as an athlete among the venerable ones,
Showing utter humility in asceticism
And much love within.
And you became the fear and wailing of demons,
As you cast them out, O venerable one,
As we rejoice and chant with you:
Alleluia.

Your nous beheld the rays of the Comforter,
As you beheld terrible and unspeakable mysteries.
You searched men through these,
And were truly shown a prophet, O venerable one,
Informing of events,
As they cried out in amazement thus:
Hail, the prophet of the ineffable things of God,
Hail, the interpreter of the words of Christ.
Hail, you who were precious and sought after in all things,
Hail, the firm foundation of truth.
Hail, God-given gift that was offered to us,
Hail, the refuge and harbor for all who sail.
Hail, you who grants healings to the sick,
Hail, you who studies the mysteries with discernment.
Hail, you who gathers the fruit of theosis,
Hail, you who endured a good transformation.
Hail, temple of heavenly wisdom,
Hail, stole rich in boldness.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

Strange things were always worked within you,
Astonishing the world,
As your nous reached the heavens,
As you drove away fearful demons through prayer,
Healing every incurable passion,
Making knowledge to be revealed to the faithful,
Who cry out to Christ:
Alleluia.

While being totally in the world, you partook
Of the joyous desert of Athos.
For your heart was within her,
And you never left her in spirit.
You therefore reposed in Kavsokalyvia,
As we cry out thus:
Hail, joy possessing peace,
Hail, you who grants these to us.
Hail, unsurpassable report of the monastics,
Hail, the boast of those who live in the world in asceticism.
Hail, sweetest nightingale of the hesychastic life,
Hail, soaring golden eagle of the clairvoyant nous.
Hail, for you indicated sources of water,
Hail, for you curtailed the homage of the faithless.
Hail, you through whom elders are humbled,
Hail, you through whom those who stumbled are cleared.
Hail, the healing of many sick people,
Hail, the true witness of Christ.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You were made worthy to behold and to hear
The Revelation on Patmos, as St. John the Theologian.
And for a short time, you went into ecstacy,
And beheld awesome things, O venerable one,
And being filled with fear of the Lord,
You cried out in gratitude:
Alleluia.

Being adorned with grace
Of the Comforter from on high,
You were shown a god-bearer to the world.
And you breathed forth the fragrance of myrrh,
And were seen to visit those who suffered,
As you received saints. We are amazed at this,
And we cry out:
Hail, you who beheld divine visions,
Hail, you who grants us healings.
Hail, you the holy one who comes to us awake,
Hail, you who flies through the air unseen.
Hail, you who were adorned with holiness, and exalted with humility,
Hail, you who received very many graces from the Comforter.
Hail, for you possessed the hearts of the Athenians,
Hail, for you endured the pains of the ailing.
Hail, spring pouring forth healings,
Hail, dawn illuminating the darkness.
Hail, the friend and beloved of God,
Hail you who resurrected many towards Christ.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

The frenzy of the heart,
You cease with your prayer,
Granting us peace, O Father.
You shine upon the darkness of the mind
And breathe forth hymns to God, O venerable one.
Therefore, out of gratitude
We hymn God, crying out:
Alleluia.

A perfect shepherd of men
You were shown to be,
And you laid down your life for them.
You cut your will,
And were martyred daily, O venerable one,
Becoming a servant
To those, who now cry out to you with joy:
Hail, you who sought Christ with fervor,
Hail, you who struggled for His faith.
Hail, radiant garment of dispassion,
Hail, you who fulfill every request of the faithful.
Hail, the purest nous beholding mysteries,
Hail, the deliver of all from the battles of Belial.
Hail, you who flaunt the dangers of the foe,
Hail, you who were nourished by the teachings of the Lord.
Hail, sacred icon of meekness,
Hail, you who were granted much gladness.
Hail, you through whom the Church is hymned,
Hail, you through whom faithlessness is shaken.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

Hymns of thanksgiving,
As ones delivered from dangers,
We offer to your compassion.
For you loved us as children,
And always had your arms open, O venerable one,
Ever to cherish all,
And to cover those who cry out to the Lord:
Alleluia.

You appeared as light-bearing in prayer, O Father,
Astonishing the faithful who beheld you.
For you shown with the immaterial light
That lead you towards the knowledge to study unspeakable things,
And to heal sicknesses
Of those who hymn you thusly:
Hail, fire-bearing lamp of Christ,
Hail, true father, and Christ-bearer.
Hail, unemptying spring of piety,
Hail, irrefutable voice of truth.
Hail, for through your grace, you foresaw the invasion of Cyprus,
Hail, for you drive away the attacks of the demons.
Hail, for you desired hesychia from your soul.
Hail, for you were an ascetic and humble pastor.
Hail, you who revealed the love of Christ,
Hail, you brought joy to troubled souls.
Hail, your monastery's shelter and protector,
Hail, you who stand beside many in dangers.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

You received the grace, O Father,
To truly reveal springs of water from the depths of the earth.
And many beheld this,
As geologists were amazed, O venerable one,
As the landholders rejoiced,
And cried out in thanksgiving:
Alleluia.

We chant joyously
At the multitudes of your graces,
And we hymn the All-Holy Trinity.
For by [the Trinity] you were shown a man
Clairvoyant and pouring forth healings,
Enlightening mysteries,
Breathing forth to those who cry out:
Hail, the pinnacle of every virtue,
Hail, the most-faithful life in purity.
Hail, the unshakable foundation of piety.
Hail, the ever-flowing river of truth.
Hail, fragrant lily of mystical Paradise,
Hail, star most-radiant of the spiritual Heaven.
Hail, the radiance and glory of the Church,
Hail, you who trample on the arrows of the enemy.
Hail, the divine good news of Evia,
Hail, the angel of joy and hope.
Hail, you who cleanse from the stains of the passions,
Hail, you who takes up our souls to the Heavens.
Hail, O Father Porphyrios.

O thrice-blessed Father, the beauty of ascetics,
Porphyrios, and the protector of all (3)
Together with the angels, as we hymn Christ,
Grant us the tears of repentance,
And entreat that we inherit Paradise,
Who cry out together:
Alleluia.

And straightway the Kontakion again.
  
Written by Evangelos Karademos, "Hairois, Pater Porphyie" ("Hail, O Father Porphyrios"), Paraklesis and Akathist. Athens, 2008 (source)

 St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (source)
 
Apolytikion – Mode 1

“The son of Evia (Euboea), the Elder of All Greeks, * the initiate of Divine Vision and True friend of Christ. * Porphyrios, O faithful, let us praise * who from childhood was filled with divine gifts *
the demonized are redeemed and the sick are healed who cry out: “Glory to Him who gave His might to you! * Glory to Him who made you Holy! * Glory to Him, who, through you, effects cures for all.”
(source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Elder Porphyrios canonized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate

St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia (+ December 2, 1991) (source)
   
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, during its gathering today, moved to canonize Elder Porphyrios, under the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

The canonization of the Elder will take place on December 1st 2013 in the Holy Women's Hesychasterion "Metamorphosis tou Soteros" ("The Transfiguration of the Savior") [Milesi, Attica]
(source)

For the life of St. Porphyrios, see: http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-life-of-elder-porphyrios-of.html. Hopefully there will be more provided about this great Saint of our days in the near future. May he intercede for us all and help us!

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Homily on the Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple, by St. John of Kronstadt

The Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple (source)
 

Homily on the Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple, by St. John of Kronstadt
   
Let us faithfully praise the Virgin Mary,
for she is brought into the Holy of Holies,
to be raised in the Lord.
Ekos from Matins
   
On this day, my brethren, the holy Church celebrates the solemn Entry into the temple in Jerusalem of the three-year-old child, Mary—the blessed daughter of righteous parents, Joachim and Anna—to be in instructed in the Lord. Zacharias—the elder and high priest—meets her with priestly splendor; and as he was instructed to do by the Spirit of God, he brings her, accompanied by young maidens, into the most interior part of the temple, the Holy of Holies, where the high priest himself enters but once a year, and where the Holy of Holies, the Lord Himself dwelt—for she was to become the Mother of His flesh.
How did the most blessed Virgin spend her time in the temple? Taught the Hebrew written language and prayer by the Holy Spirit through the maidens, she spent her time in prayer, reading of the word of God (as you can see on the icon of the Annunciation), in divine contemplation, and handiwork. Her love for converse with God and for reading the word of God was so great that she forgot about food and drink, and an Archangel brought her heavenly food at God's request, as the Church sings in the stichera for today's feast.
   
What an excellent example for fathers, mothers, and their children; for Christian maidens and youths! They are obligated as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, as servants of the Heavenly Queen, the Mother of God, and Founder of Spiritual Instruction[1] (meaning the Church to which they belong), to emulate as well as they can her fervent love for God, her zeal for reading the word of God, for prayer, for divine contemplation, self-restraint, and love of labor! If we do not want to be falsely called spiritual members of Christ's Church—that holy House of God, the Queen and Mother of which is the Most Holy Virgin—then we should also have the same thoughts as She has. May her children by grace be of one spirit with Her! Let them learn from her how to love the Lord, our Creator, more than anything else in the world, more than father and mother, more than anyone dear to us; how to avidly study the word of God—something unfortunately not seen amongst the disciples of Jesus Christ; learn with what warmth of heart and love we must pray to the Lord; how we must dedicate ourselves to him wholeheartedly; how to entrust our fate to His wise and all-good Providence; with what purity, meekness, humility, and patience we must always clothe and adorn ourselves and not with the vain embellishments of this adulterous and sinful world which knows no bounds of luxury and elegance in bodily clothing; how to love a life with God and the saints more than to dwell in the tents of sinners (Ps. 83:11).
   
Since the Most Holy Virgin was brought into the temple to be instructed in the Lord, let us talk now about the benefit and necessity of going to the church of God as the house of God and place where we are raised for the Heavenly Fatherland. We are called Christians, and we are all called by Jesus Christ to the Heavenly Fatherland, to be heavenly citizens, Divine inheritors, co-inheritors with Christ. Our calling is very high, our duties are also just as important; our spirit should be very exalted, holy, meek, and humble.
   
Who will show us what makes up our Christian calling and duty, of what spirit we must be, and how we should behave ourselves in various life situations? Who will give us the strength to live in the spirit of Christ—holy? The Church gives us all this. We can receive these spiritual powers in the temple of God through the Sacraments. Here a heavenly, unearthly spirit hovers; here is the school of Jesus Christ, in which future heavenly citizens are educated. Here you will receive heavenly lessons from the Divine Teacher, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the Gospels. Here is heavenly food and heavenly drink, spiritual, heavenly garments, and spiritual armaments against the enemies of salvation. Here you will receive the peace that is a foretaste of heaven, so necessary to our spiritual activity and education, and strength for spiritual labors and struggle with sin. Here we partake of sweet conversation with our Heavenly Father and the Most Holy Queen and Mother of God, with the angels of the Lord and saints. Here we learn how to pray, and for what to pray. Here you will find examples of all the Christian virtues in the saints who are glorified each day by the Church. Here, gathered together in the house of God, as children of one Heavenly Father, as members of the mystical body of Christ, we learn how to love one another—member loving member, as members of Christ, as Christ Himself.
   
See how beneficial, how necessary it is for a Christian to visit God's church. It is a school of faith and piety founded by God, a sacred treasure According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), the treasury of all the Mysteries of Christ! But the benefit and necessity for the Christian of attending God's church is more clearly revealed by comparing the church with the vain world, to which we prefer to go instead of church. What do you find in the world, and what in church?
   
In the world, at every step there is vanity, delusion, and vice; in the church is truth, sanctity, and every kind of virtue. In the world is corruption, sin, and death; in the church is the incorruption of the saints and eternal life. Outside the church you see objects of worldly vanity that feed on the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:16). You see the things that constantly entice and captivate people, and cause them to neglect the commandments of God, the Creator and Savior of all. For example, here in this building were kept fabrics of every sort and color. Those fabrics are the object of adoration of the daughters of men. They lived for them, were inspired by them, rejoiced over them, but not over God. Here the sparkle of various items of silver and gold stunned and enticed the gaze of those who worship everything glittering and beautiful. In a word—no matter where you direct your attention in the world, you will see only decay, vanity, and sin; everywhere is the earthly and worldly. Empty, vain conversations, vain activity that gives almost no reminder of heaven, God, and the other life. Only in pious homes do the icons of the Lord Jesus Christ, His Most Pure Mother, and His saints remind the thoughtful that we, Christians and members of Christ, members of His kingdom, look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the age to come, in which we shall unite with the Lord and the saints, having cleansed ourselves of all defilement of flesh and spirit.
   
Thus, do you see what a difference there is between the temple--the house of God, and the world? Do you see how beneficial and necessary it is for a Christian to visit the temple of God in order to educate himself for the Heavenly Fatherland, in order to bring the spirit of Christ into himself, to engender heavenly, saintly manners? For, where else besides God's temple will you hear the word of God; where, beside in church, will you receive the mysteries of faith; where will you obtain the strength to live in a Christian way? All of this is in church and from church.
   
Love going to God's church, and prepare a temple of your own selves for God: Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:5). Let parents, teachers, and relatives take or send their children to church often, every Sunday and feast day without fail, and not to the theatre, where they will only learn what the young should not know. In church, they will hear the name of the Lord more frequently; they will learn the great truth of the creation of the world and mankind; they will come to know the Savior, the Mother of God, and the names of the saints. They will learn about the resurrection of the dead, the future judgment, the future life, and the eternal torments of sinners. They will learn from the Spirit of God to be good Christians; and that is more valuable than anything in the world. Amen.
St. John of Kronstadt
(translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees), Source- www.pravoslavie.ru/english)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Elder Porphyrios: "You should experience the mystery of the divine incarnation..."

The Annunciation of the Theotokos (source)
 
Elder Porphyrios: "You should experience the mystery of the divine incarnation..."
Good morning, and many years! May we have the blessing of our Panagia. I pray this for everyone. I am very happy for our Panagia. Today I embrace everyone. I kissed Demosthenes, Kosmas, Thomas, everyone. But they did not understand me. This occurred mystically. “We are all one in Christ.”

Today is the beginning of our salvation, The revelation of the eternal mystery! The Son of God becomes the Son of the Virgin, As Gabriel announces the coming of Grace. Together with him let us cry to the Theotokos: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, The Lord is with You!

Say this also yourselves. Say it again even more beautifully. I don't get my fill of this!

This was announced from ages beforehand. What does the Katavasia of Christmas say?
To the Son, begotten without flux, of the Father, before the ages, and who was lately made incarnate of the Virgin without seed; to Christ God now let us cry aloud: You have exalted the horn of our strength. Only You are holy, O Lord.

You should experience the mystery of the divine incarnation. “Your Nativity, O Christ our God...” I say this within myself and cry.

The Holy Spirit has crafted these, the “Today is the beginning of our salvation”, and the “Your Nativity, O Christ our God...”, they were not crafted by men. They are very rich in meaning and depth. Very strong words.

You understand little. I am telling you the truth, it was not written by men, but by the Holy Spirit. I cry every time I hear them. As many times as I think of this, I am always moved. My Christ, my little Christ! Say it again, but with beautiful recitation. Read now, I can't speak, I can't, I am unable, I don't have the strength, I surrender, I should get up and hurry myself along.

I am very moved, and my eyes filled with tears. And because I am laid up in bed, the tears don't fall down, but my eyes are filled with tears. All day, if you would tell me the troparion, I would be moved constantely. I should have two megaphones to stand upon the pine trees and to play “Today is the beginning of our salvation...”, and “Your Nativity, O Christ our God...” to be taken by the air and projected north and south, to be heard far away, so that all creation and nature would hear it!
This event occurred on the feast of the Annunciation in the year 1987. From the Book: Logoi Peri Pneumatikes Zoes. The Holy Monastery of Chrysopigis. Chania. 2010. (Amateur translation from: source and sources 1 and 2)
   
The Nativity of Christ (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

St. John of Kronstadt on Good Works


Jesus Christ in Majesty (source)
   
St. John of Kronstadt on Good Works
Rejoice at every opportunity of showing kindness to your neighbour as a true Christian who strives to store up as many good works as possible, especially the treasures of love.
   
Our soul, as a spiritual, active being, cannot remain idle; it either does good or evil, one of the two; either wheat grows in it or tares. But as every good comes from God, and as the means of obtaining every good from God is prayer, those who pray fervently, sincerely, from the depths of their hearts, obtain from the Lord grace to do good, and, before all, the grace of faith; whilst, those who do not pray, naturally remain without these spiritual gifts, voluntarily depriving themselves of them by their own negligence and spiritual coldness; and as the wheat of good thoughts, inclinations, intentions, and works grows in the hearts of those who labour and pray fervently to the Lord, so in the hearts of those who do not pray, the tares of every evil grow, smothering the small amount of good that has remained in them from the grace of baptism, chrism, and subsequent penitence and communion.
   
Therefore, we must most carefully look after the field of our heart, lest the tares of evil, slothfulness, luxuriousness, self-indulgence, unbelief, avarice, envy, hatred, and others, should grow within it; we must daily weed the field of our heart — at least, at morning and evening prayers, and refresh it by salutary sighs, as by healthful winds, and water it with abundant tears, as by early and late rain. Besides this, we must by every means implant in the field of our heart the seeds of the virtues, faith, hope in God, and love for God and our neighbour, fertilise it by prayer, patience, good works, and not for a single hour remain in complete idleness and inactivity, for in times of idleness and inactivity the enemy zealously sows his tares. "While men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way."[304] We must also remember that it is impossible to do good works without efforts. Since our voluntary falling into sin the kingdom of God cannot be taken otherwise than by "violence, and the violent take it by force."[305] Why is it that only the narrow way and narrow gate lead to life? Who makes the way of the chosen narrow? The world oppresses the chosen, the devil oppresses them, the flesh oppresses them; it is these that make our way to the kingdom of heaven narrow.
   
There is no need to ask anyone whether we ought to spread or propagate the Glory of God, either by writing, or by word, or by good works. This we are obliged to do according to our power and possibility. We must make use of our talents. If you think much about such a simple matter, then, perhaps, the Devil may suggest to you such foolishness as that you need only be inwardly active.
   
O, if we turned our attention to the consequences of our sins or of our good works! How careful we should then be to shun sin, and how zealous in all that is good! For we should then clearly see that every sin not eradicated in time becomes strengthened by habit, becomes deeply rooted in a man's heart, and sometimes troubles, torments, and wounds him until death, becoming, so to say, awakened and revived in him upon every occasion, reminding him of the sin formerly committed, and thus defiling his thoughts, feelings, and conscience. Streams of tears are necessary to wash away the inveterate filthiness of sin. How tenacious and malignant it is! Whilst, on the contrary, every good action done at any time sincerely, disinterestedly, or having become a habit by repetition, rejoices our hearts and forms the joy and comfort of our life by the consciousness that we have not spent our life entirely in vain, full of sins though it is; that we are like men and not beasts; that we, too, are created after the image of God, and that there is a spark of the Divine light and love in us; that, although they are but few, our good works will form a counterpoise for our evil ones in the balance of God's incorruptible righteousness.
   
How and when are we to care for the imperishable raiment of the soul: meekness, righteousness, chastity, patience, mercy, when all our cares, attention, and means are directed to perishable raiment and the adornment of our body? We cannot serve two masters: for the soul is simple and single. How and when are we to care for the spiritual riches of good works, when we are only greedy after perishable riches and strive to amass it with all our might and means, when our heart clings to money, to the world, and not to God? How and when are we to care for the incorruptible spiritual food and for the blessed drink — for prayer, the reading of God's word, the writings and lives of the Holy Fathers, the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, when we hardly let food and drink out of our mouths, and this stupefying lit-up poisonous smoke which many consider so pleasant? How can our soul rejoice in the Holy Spirit, when we are continually occupied by earthly, vain pastimes and pleasures? O, ruinous service to corruption, drawing us away from the life incorruptible, true and eternal!
   
... Therefore the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary to us all in all our good works. He is our power, strength, light, peace, and comfort.
   
... continually force yourself to be kind when others exasperate and offend you, to pray for your enemies, for meekness, humility, gentleness, truer benevolence, generosity, disinterestedness, abstinence, chastity, alms-giving, truth and righteousness, industry, obedience, and others. It is difficult to conquer the passions, which become as though our natural members ("Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth"[553]), but by being continually watchful over yourself, by constant fervent prayer and abstinence, with the help of God you will be able to conquer and eradicate them.
   
We must never forget that we are all one body, and that we should stimulate each other to love and good works; we pastors should especially remember and do this... This is why the Lord said: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Which is in heaven."[1029] "If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!"[1030]
   
Concerning modern works of charity. If you enjoy earthly blessings in full measure, and if you give to the needy, but indulge yourself still more, it means that you do good works without the least self-denial. Your works of charity are not great. But what else do we find? What are so-called works of charity? People arrange different entertainments with a charitable object — that is, they intentionally wish before all to serve their sinful flesh, the Devil, and only afterwards their neighbour and God. But this is no charity at all! Such works only bear the name of charity. "Let us do evil, that good may come."[835] "Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger! Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep!"[836]
   
Why, after every six days, is a day of rest observed? In order that we may continually remember that after the labours of this present life, the day of eternal rest will come; for in accordance with the apostle, "there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God."[786] And Sunday betokens the day of the general resurrection, after which a day of rest shall come for all those who have done good work in this present life, in Christ Jesus.
   
You cannot conquer any passion, any sin without gracious help; therefore, always ask the help of Christ, your Saviour. It was for this that He came into the world, for this that He suffered, died, and rose from the dead, in order to help us in everything, to save us from sin, and from the violence of the passions, to cleanse us from our sins, to bestow upon us power in Holy Spirit to do good works, to enlighten us, to strengthen us, to give us peace. You ask how you can save yourself when sin stands at every step, and you sin at every moment? There is a simple answer to this: at every step, at every moment, call upon the Saviour, remember the Saviour, and you will save yourself and others.
   
I am morally nothing without the Lord. I have really not one true thought or good feeling, and can do no good works; without Him I cannot drive away from me any sinful thought, any passionate feeling such as malice, envy, fornication, pride, and so forth. The Lord is the accomplishment of everything good that I think, feel, and do. O, how boundlessly wide is the Lord's grace acting in me! The Lord is everything to me, and so clearly, so constantly. Mine — is only my sinfulness; mine — are only mine infirmities. O, how we ought to love our Lord, Who was pleased to call us into existence from non-existence, to honour us by His image and likeness, to establish us in a paradise of delights, to subdue all the earth unto us, and Who — when we did not keep His commandments, but were allured by the enticement of the Devil, and immeasurably offended our Creator by our ingratitude, and assimilated unto ourselves all the qualities of the tempter (pride, malice, envy, ingratitude) and all his evil arts, which he taught us as his prisoners — did not reject us for ever, but deigned to redeem us from sin, from the curse and death into which we had fallen through sin, and Himself appeared upon earth, having taken our nature upon Him; He Himself became my Teacher, my Healer, my Worker of miracles, my Saviour; He Himself bore the punishment for us, died for us in order that we should not be eternally lost. He rose from the dead, in order to raise us too after death. He ascended into heaven, in order that we, too, should ascend, we who had fallen so low through sin; and He became everything to us — food, drink, light, purification, sanctification, health — and the power that protects, saves, preserves, and has mercy upon us.
   
Do you pay sufficient attention to the state of your soul? whether it is in good health, and, seeing that it lives, is its life vigorous? And, if its present temporal life is happy, then is its eternal life, its eternal happiness, ensured by anything — for instance, by faith — is there in your soul a lively faith in God, in the Saviour, in the Church, — by good works, meekness, humility, gentleness, love of truth and honesty, abstinence, chastity, mercy, patience, obedience, industry, and others? If the reverse is the case, then all your labour is in vain. The soul, perhaps, does many things worthy of wonder, but it will be itself lost. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"[686]
   
It is a remarkable phenomenon in nature that, if you put a plant into a large, wide pot or tub, it grows very much at the roots; they thicken, they give out many ramifications, but the tree itself does not grow much in height, and only yields few and small leaves and flowers. But if it is planted in a small pot, then the roots are small, but the plant itself grows rapidly in height and yields beautiful leaves and flowers (if it is the nature of the plant to produce flowers). Is it not the same with man? When he lives in full liberty, in abundance and prosperity, then he grows in body and does not grow in spirit, does not bring forth fruits — good works; whilst when he lives in straightness, in poverty, sickness, misfortune, and afflictions, in a word, when his animal nature is crushed, then he grows spiritually, bears flowers of virtue, ripens and brings forth rich fruits. This is why the path of those who love God is a narrow one.
   
How corrupt I am become through sin! Anything bad, evil, impure immediately enters into my thoughts and is felt in my heart, whilst anything good, right, pure, holy — is often only thought and spoken of, and not felt. Woe unto me! for as yet evil is nearer to my heart than good. Besides this, we are at once ready to do evil as soon as it is thought of or felt, and we do it quickly and easily if we have no fear of God, whilst "how to perform that which is good I find not"[641] the power within me, and the intended good work is often put off indefinitely.
   
Our self-love and pride would like everything to be as we wish, that we should be surrounded by every honour and comfort of this temporal life; would like all men, and even — how far is pride carried! — all nature itself, to speedily and silently obey a sign from us; whilst, alas! we ourselves are very slow to faith and to every good work — slow to please the one Master of all. Christian! you must absolutely be humble, meek, and long-suffering, remembering that you are clay, dust, nothingness; that you are impure; that everything good that you have is from God; that your life, your breath and everything you possess are God's gifts;
   
Man! the Creator's omnipotence, wisdom, and mercy, which were poured out upon the visible and invisible world, are ready to be bestowed, in all their infinity, upon you also, if you endeavour to be a true child of the Heavenly Father, if you fulfil His commandments to love God and your neighbour. Give yourself up, then, untiringly, and with all your might, to good works and deeds.
   
Do not only do your work when you wish to, but do it especially then, when you do not wish to. Understand that this applies to every ordinary worldly matter, as likewise, and especially, to the work of the salvation of your soul — to prayer, to reading God's word and other salutary books, to attending Divine service, to doing good works, whatever they may be, to preaching God's word. Do not obey the slothful, deceitful, and most sinful flesh; it is eternally ready to rest and lead us into everlasting destruction through temporal tranquillity and enjoyment. "In the sweat of thy face," it is said, " shalt thou eat bread."[334] O miserable soul, "carefully cultivate the talent granted unto thee," sings the Church. [335] "The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force,"[336] says our Lord and Saviour.
   
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."[701] How are we to seek first the kingdom of God? In the following manner: let us suppose that you wish to walk, or drive, or else go in a boat somewhere on any worldly, temporal business; before doing so, first pray to the Lord that He may correct the ways of your heart, and then also your present bodily way, or that He may direct the way of your life in accordance with His commandments; desire this with all your heart, and often renew your prayer concerning this. The Lord, seeing your sincere desire and endeavour to walk in accordance with His commandments, will, by degrees, correct all your ways.
   
The way to succeed in any good work. When you are praying at home, at evening, or at morning prayer, or in the church during Divine service, be solicitous in your heart to accomplish this particular good work, and heartily desire to fulfil it to the glory of God. The Lord and His Most-pure Mother will unfailingly teach you, will instil in your heart some bright idea how to accomplish it.
   
In all your works, either at home or at the place of your service, do not forget that all your strength, your light and your success are in Christ and His Cross; therefore, do not fail to call upon the Lord before beginning any work, saying: Jesus, help me! Jesus, enlighten me! Thus your heart will be supported and warmed by lively faith and hope in Christ, for His is the power and glory unto ages of ages.
   
If you have Christian love for your neighbour, then all heaven will love you; if you have union of spirit with your fellow-creatures, then you shall have union with God and all the dwellers of heaven; if you are merciful to your neighbour, then God and all the Angels and Saints will be merciful to you; if you pray for others, then all heaven will intercede for you. The Lord our God is holy, be so yourself also.
   
When the foolish thought of counting up any of your good works enters into your head, immediately correct your fault and rather count up your sins, your continual and innumerable offences against the All-merciful and Righteous Master, and you will find that their number is as the sand of the sea, whilst your virtues in comparison with them are as nothing.
   
Whilst the soul, changeable in its relation to God, suffers changes in itself, thus it unavoidably expands and obtains peace of heart when it draws nearer to God by faith and good works, and unavoidably contracts, becomes restless and wearied, when it withdraws itself from God by unlawful acts, want of faith, and unbelief in God's Truth.
   
In trees there is organic earthly life; in the Christian race the life of Christ, heavenly, spiritual; and we must look upon the spiritual capabilities and powers of true Christians as upon the powers of Jesus Christ Himself. "We have the mind of Christ,"[203] said the Apostle of true Christians; we must also look upon good works as upon the fruits of the grace of Christ.
   
It is a strange phenomenon in our nature, perverted by sin, to hate those to whom we do good, and to make them pay for our benefits by disliking them! Oh, how narrow and poor in love and grace is our heart! How selfish it is! The enemy may well mock at us; he wishes to destroy the fruits of our good works. But the more good you do to others, the more you must love them, knowing that those who receive your benefits serve as a pledge to you of your receiving forgiveness from God.
   
"Worship God in spirit and in truth." In truth, for instance, when you say, "Hallowed be Thy Name." Do you really desire that God's name should be hallowed by the good works of others and by your own?
   
"How can I prepare for death in a Christian manner?" By means of faith, by means of good works, and by bravely bearing the miseries and sorrows that happen to you, so as to be able to meet death fearlessly, peacefully, and without shame, not as a rigorous law of nature, but as a fatherly call of the eternal, heavenly, holy, and blessed Father unto the everlasting Kingdom.
   
Deny yourself sensual delights in the hope that, instead of them, you will obtain higher spiritual, heavenly delights. Do good to all in the hope that, in accordance with God's justice, "with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again";[343] that the good you have done to your neighbour shall be sooner or later returned into your bosom, just as the evil you have done him shall sooner or later be returned into your bosom. Remember that we are one body. "We being many are one bread."[344] Remember that God is just to the highest degree, to an iota.
   
When the Devil is in our heart, then we feel an unusual, overwhelming load and fire in the breast and in the heart. The soul contracts extremely and darkens, everything irritates it, it feels an aversion to every good work; the words and acts of other persons in reference to ourselves we interpret falsely and see in them ill-will and designs against our honour, and therefore we feel a deep, deadly hatred towards them; we are infuriated and long for vengeance. "By their fruits ye shall know them."[51] There are days when the spirit of evil disturbs me.
   
Both the spiritual and bodily powers of a man increase and become perfected and strengthened by their exercise. By exercising your hand in writing, sewing or knitting, you will accustom it to such work; by frequently exercising yourself in composition you will learn to write easily and well; by exercising yourself in doing good works or in conquering your passions and temptations, you will in time learn to do good works easily and with delight; and with the help of God's all-active grace you will easily learn to conquer your passions. But if you cease writing, sewing, knitting, or if you only do so seldom, you will write, sew, and knit badly. If you do not exercise yourself in composition, or do so very seldom, if you live in the material cares of life only, it will probably become difficult for you to connect a few words together, especially upon spiritual subjects: the work set you will seem to you like an Egyptian labour, if you cease praying, or pray seldom; prayer will be oppressive to you. If you do not fight against your passions, or only do so seldom and feebly, you will find it very difficult to fight against them, you will often be conquered by them; they will give you no rest, and your life will be poisoned by them, if you do not learn how to conquer these evil, inward enemies, that settle in your heart. Therefore labour and activity are indispensable for all. Life without activity is not life, but something monstrous — a sort of phantom of life. This is why it is the duty of every man to fight continually and persistently against the slothfulness of the flesh. God preserve every Christian from indulging it! "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."[264] "Unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath."[265]
   
With the words in your heart "All things are possible to him that believeth,"[1328] strive after everything good and praiseworthy. Whatever good work you have the intention of doing, always have faith. Preserve by every means simplicity of heart, simplicity of faith, hope and love, of meekness, humility and gentleness. Every good comes from God, and God is every good for us. This is the simplicity of faith, hope, and love.
   
Be bold, resolute in every good work, be especially generous in words of kindness, tenderness, sympathy, and still more so in works of compassion and mutual help. Consider despondency, despair in any good work, as an illusion. Say: "I can do all things through Christ Which strengtheneth me,"[1330] though indeed I am the greatest of sinners. " All things are possible to him that believeth."[1331]
   
"Christ came upon earth in order to raise us up to heaven"[1393]; that it is not right to attach ourselves to anything earthly; and that we must value time in order to win eternity; to cleanse our hearts from every impurity, and to do as many good works as possible: "My meat is to do the will of Him That sent Me, and to finish His work."[1394]
   
"He that gathereth not with Me scattereth."[1417] It is necessary to advance in the spiritual life, and ascend higher and higher; to increase more and more the stores of our good works. If we remain stationary at one point of moral perfection, upon one step of the Christian ascent, it is equal to our going back; if we do not gather, it is equal to scattering.

Footnotes
[51] St. Matthew vii. 20.
[203] 1 Corinthians ii. 16.
[264] Galatians v. 24.
[265] St. Matthew xxv. 29.
[304] St. Matthew xiii. 25.
[305] St. Matthew xi. 12.
[334] Genesis iii. 19.
[335] Condakiou at Matins on Holy Tuesday.
[336] St. Matthew xi.12.
[343] St. Matthew vii. 2.
[344] 1 Corinthians x. 17.
[553] Colossians iii. 5.
[641] Romans vii. 18.
[686] St. Matthew xvi. 26.
[701] St. Matthew vi. 33.
[786] Hebrews iv. 9.
[835] Romans iii. 8.
[836] St. Luke vi. 25.
[1029] St. Matthew v. 16.
[1030] St. Matthew vi. 23.
[1328] St. Mark ix. 23.
[1330] Philippians iv. 13.
[1331] St. Mark ix. 23.
[1394] St. John iv. 34.
[1417] St. Luke xi. 23.
Excerpts compiled from: My Life in Christ or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God, St. John of Kronstadt. (source)
      
St. John of Kronstadt the Wonderworker (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The wondrous "nectar" of St. Nektarios

St. Nektarios the Wonderworker (source)
 
If it is the Lord's will that we be granted physical healing of our illnesses, this often is brought about, in an awesome manner, through the prayers of Christ's Saints. But more importantly. the Saints, show us how to live a true life in Christ, so that, when it is time for the journey of this temporary life to come to an end, we might be shown the way to the Kingdom. The following moving event reminds me that "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's".
 
I write these lines with great emotion, faith and hope. It was the past March (2012), when the results of my mother’s MRI showed cancer in her head, her lungs, her adrenal and likely in her bones...two months to live, that’s how much the doctor gave her.
  
In the summer of 2000 there was the initial diagnosis: breast cancer. The doctor then had given her three years to live. My mother, however, from then had faith in God and a desire for life... In December 2010 she was diagnosed with cancer of her uterus, which was followed by hysterectomy with removal of the large portion of the lymph nodes. In August 2011, a new surgery: metastasis to her bladder. They opened her up, and then closed her right away, because they could not operate on her without removing her bladder. They would attempt radiation with faith. The next tests were all clean!!! Until this hopeless diagnosis in March of 2012...
  
We were mourning in advance. But she, again, became an example for us. She lifted up her cross without complaining, and with hope. “Thy will be done...” Chemotherapy, radiation, hyperthermic treatments, alternative herbal medicines from China, Germany, America...
  
One summer night, St. Nektarios appeared to my in my sleep and told me: “I will sprinkle nectar in your life.” Up to that instant, I had never ever called upon him, and I knew nothing of his life or his miracles... He simply came to me in my sleep, bringing this joyous message. I was hooked by this.
  
The next evening, I went for a walk with my husband and my children. In a neighborhood home there was a chapel in the yard, and we stopped to have a discussion. Mr. Photis had lost his son. I told him about my dream, and he told me that he had the icon of St. Nektarios in his chapel. He showed it to me, and I realized that this was the same person who appeared to me in my dream. I cried with tears of faith, and he cried, and gave me the icon... I looked online, and found your site. I read the life of the Saint and his miracles...my faith increased... “There are others,” I began to think. I brought the icon and put it at the head of her bed.
  
November 2012: the MRI was totally clean...The doctor did not believe it...self-healing, he said... I am waiting for her to get stronger, for us to go together and venerate the Saint...
  
This instant, my mother is again in the hospital, and getting a new surgery 11/1/13...Her intestines are in a ball and her abdomen is full...I am far away...I have three small children...my thoughts are with her, and I am praying to St. Nektarios to make her better, in a way that I might not know...I thank him every day for the two months that he gave her...within me the miracle was completed...and it is my egotistical need to want her to live longer...she is 59 year old, young, but with a life full of love...Most likely the hour has come for her to rest after 13 years of continuous struggle. I love her very much, and I will pray for her. And may St. Nektarios sprinkle again his nectar, in the way that he sees fit...
E.P.
(amateur translation of text from: http://www.agios-nektarios.gr/03/03_02_18.html)
 
St. Nektarios the Wonderworker, detail, by Alevizakis (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Flock of the Theotokos

 The Most-Holy Theotokos "Gerontissa" ("The Abbess"), depicted with Holy Angels and several Monastic Saints (source)
 
M.M. Elder, let us move onto a different topic. Speak to us on the relationship that you and every Athonite has with the Panagia.
   
Elder Markellos: It is Her Garden, and we are her children. Once, an Athonite monk was sick. In order to be healed, he took refuge in the Panagia of Tinos. There, of course from reverence, he slept at night within the church. In reality, therefore, Panagia visited him, but in a...unique manner. She gave him a motherly slap, saying at the same time: "What do you want here?"
 
He replied: "My Panagia, I came to find my health."
 
"Well, why didn't you call me and entreat me in my Garden? I'm there every day along with you. Was there a need to come here?" Then the poor monk lost it, and awoke thinking: "Wow, what a fool I am, what am I doing here?"
 
This motherly position Panagia has before all of us, and when we are pleasing before Her--according to Her promise--she gives us everything. The blessed Elder Ephraim of Katounakia said: "Are you being tempted? Grab hold of the Panagia by her dress and call upon Her! She is a mother, she will hear you." He said this with joy, and also with faith that it would thus occur. When he sought for something from the Panagia, She gave it to him.
 
There is a story regarding an astonishing vision having to do with the Athonite Fathers and the Most-Holy Theotokos, which depicts her many times as an Abbess, as the Gerontissa of the Holy Mountain, with Her rod and mandya. She visits, she keeps vigil, she cares for Her children.
 
An Elder saw this astonishing vision: "The Second Coming, the Last Judgment had come. The Panagia as an Abbess passed by the cemeteries of the Holy Monasteries, by the Sketes, by the Hermitages, where there were the graves of the Fathers. As she passed by the place of the Fathers' rest, she would hit Her staff on the graves, and the Fathers would rise!"
 
An astonishing vision... All the resurrected Fathers followed the Panagia, who went before them, and arranged them into a large flock, the flock of the Most-Holy Theotokos. The Athonite Fathers were and are Her children, and she led them and leads them to the Kingdom of the Heavens.
 
An incredible vision. But once in a while, from certain graves, the Panagia did not take the Fathers. She left them there. They were those monks who did not take care in their life, who did not keep their monastic promises and their monastic duties. These cried out, mourned, wailed, entreated: "Take me too, Panagia! Take me together with You!" However, she did not take them, and they remained complaining and estranged from the great brotherhood, the Synodeia of the Most-Holy Theotokos.
 
Every Athonite monk senses the Panagia as his Mother. Whatever he asks of Her with faith and purity, the Panagia brings about, but he must try to always be pleasing before Her in his life. In other words, he must try to not make his life something that would sadden his Mother.
  
From Elder Markellos of Blessed Memory, Former Abbot of Karakallou Monastery, Mount Athos. From the Book: Logos Athonos, by Manolis Melinos.
(Amateur translation of text from source)
  
The Most-holy Theotokos depicted as the Abbess of the Holy Mountain (source)
  
Most-Holy Theotokos, save us!
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!