Monday, December 23, 2013

St. Paisios on experiencing the Nativity of Christ

The Nativity of Christ (source)
Elder Paisios on experiencing the Nativity of Christ

Christ, with His great love and His great rejoicing shines upon the souls of the faithful with all of His holy feasts, and truly resurrects us, having lifted us up high spiritually. We only must participate and have a spiritual appetite to celebrate spiritually. Then we will feast spiritually and get drunk spiritually from the wine of Paradise that the Saints bring to us to treat us.

For us to experience the feasts, we must have our mind on the holy days, and not of the chores that we have to do for the holy days. Let us know about the events of every holy day, and say the [Jesus] prayer, glorifying God. Thus we will celebrate each feast with great reverence.

We should study and live the divine events continuously. When someone studies the events of every feast, naturally he will be moved, and he will pray with a special piety. Then, during the services, the nous is on the events that we are celebrating, and with reverence we will follow the hymns which are being changed. When the nous is on the divine meanings, man experiences the events, and is thus changed.

-Elder, after the Vigil for Christmas, do we sleep?
It is Christmas, and we are sleeping?! My mother said: “Tonight, only the Jews are sleeping.” Do you see, the night that Christ was born, the rulers were sleeping deeply, and the shepherds were “keeping watch”. They were protecting their sheep at night, playing the flute. Do you understand? The shepherds who were keeping vigil saw Christ.

-Elder, how was the Cave [where Christ was born]?
It was a cave within a rock and it had a manger, and nothing else. It was a place that a poor man would go and leave his animals. Panagia with Joseph, because all of the rooms were filled and they had nowhere to stay, took refuge in this cave. There was the mule and and the calf, who were keeping Christ warm with their breath! Does not the Prophet Isaiah say: “the ox knows its master, and the donkey its owner’s manger” (Isaiah 1:3).

-In one of the hymns, Elder, it says that the Most-Holy Theotokos, beholding the newborn Christ, “rejoiced, but also wept”. She was pondering: “I nurse You, Who feeds all things, and I hymn You, as my Son and my God? How can I have familiarity with You?”
These are mysteries of God, the very great condescension of God, which we cannot comprehend!

-Elder, how can we experience the event of the Nativity, that, in other words, “Today, Christ is born of the Virgin”?
For us to experience these divine events, the nous must be on the divine meanings. Then, man is changed. “A great and paradoxical wonder is completed today”, we chant. If our nous is there, on the “paradoxical”, then we will experience the great mystery of the Nativity of Christ.

I pray that your hearts become the Holy Manger, and that the All-Holy Infant of Bethlehem will give you all of His blessings.
Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, Words Volume VI “Regarding Prayer” (pg. 195-196). Edition of the Holy Hesychasterion “St. John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki. Amateur translation of text from: source.
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!

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