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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Treating an addict ( Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica )

One day, a family came to the monastery from Belgrade . They had an only son who was taking drugs for many years . The doctors had told him that time remaining for his life , if he did not quit the drugs , was six months.

The official statistic then in Serbia say that one in a thousand patients could get away from drugs.

When they started to come from Belgrade , father, mother and son , for a long time, they were quarreling in the car . Fortunately for the young mother she kept her composure .

At that time , their son was able to sleep twenty-four hours and the other twenty-four hours he could not sleep because his nervous system was completely upside down .

With the help of God, they arrived at the monastery and the elder immediately spoke with them .

At first , father and son , voiced complaints that they had from each other but then they calmed down . After the son was left alone with the elder . Father Thaddeus spoke with him with patience and great love and recited prayers for his health. All throughout the course of the prayer, Father Thaddeus caressed the head of the young man in the same way that a mother caresses her child.

After that, they all went into the car and were on their way back. The young man fell asleep during their return to Belgrade . His mother immediately sensed that something good was happening to her son because her son before wasn't able to sleep at all.

Twenty-five years later, the former drug addict got married and has two children . He never returned to the bad drug habit .

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

God is everywhere. ( St. Joseph the Hesychast )

“God is everywhere. 
There is no place God is not…You cry out to Him, ‘Where art Thou, my God?’ And He answers, “I am present, my child! I am always beside you.’ Both inside and outside, above and below, wherever you turn, everything shouts, ‘God!’ 
In Him we live and move.

We breathe God, we eat God, we clothe ourselves with God. Everything praises and blesses God. All of creation shouts His praise. Everything animate and inanimate speaks wondrously and glorifies the Creator. Let every breath praise the Lord!”

St. Joseph the Hesychast

Sunday, January 31, 2021

A MIRACLE OF THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL WITH SUDAN AIR...


It was a beautiful spring morning in the far away country of Sudan. There was unusual activity at the international airport of the capital of Sudan. In addition to the regular flights that were taking off there were an unusual number young people present filling the waiting rooms of the terminal. An educational excursion had been planned for that particular day for the young students. School songs and happy voices could be heard breaking the monotonous routine of the airport where planes were continuously landing and taking off. Suddenly the public address system announced: “All those who are part of the educational tour and their guides should prepare to board the airplane. The plane is scheduled to depart in five minutes.” A river of young people rushed to the boarding area where their plane was waiting. The plane was ready to board in three minutes. The pilot, who was a young athletic type, not much older than the student passengers, was one of the best pilots of the airline. He welcomed the young students aboard and promised them that they would have a wonderful flight. Everything was now ready for takeoff.


The captain checked the instruments one last time and then announced to the control tower that everything was ready for takeoff. The control tower gave the pilot the latest meteorological forecast for the trip. All indications showed that the weather was good for the planned trip and the tower wished the captain a good flight. Within a short period of time the airplane was racing down the runway and lifting up into the morning sky like a huge bird on its way to its destination which was 500 miles away. The plane had covered about 100 miles and everything appeared that they would have a great flight with blue skies in every direction. The young passengers were enjoying the great views of the ground below. The topography below them appeared like a huge live map with villages, rivers and verdant plains. The airplane hostess continuously pointed out to the students what they were seeing below.


The captain also took his turn on the intercom system giving a description of the airplane and its technology. It was truly a wonderful trip. The captain then radioed the tower giving his location and the weather conditions. The tower responded that it did not foresee any change in the weather throughout the course of the flight. The captain turned off the radio and then started to talk to the passengers on the intercom when he suddenly noticed in the distance a very black cloud. He turned off the intercom and grabbed the control stick and directed the plane below the cloud so that the passengers could see the ground below them. The pilot had now taken the plane below the cloud when he saw before him another even blacker cloud with flashes of lightning and thunder. They had flown directly into a tempest.


Upon seeing this second cloud, the pilot gained altitude in order to avoid the cloud formation. The altimeter indicated that he was at 8,000 feet and the storm was still intense. He then climbed higher in the sky. The altimeter showed that he was now at 10,000 feet, the maximum limit of the plane. The passengers began to become uneasy. The visibility was zero. The hail was pelting the windows of the plane like bullets. The thunderbolts and lighting lit up the sky like enemy artillery trying to shoot down the plane from the sky. The stewardess calmly attempted to reassure the passengers that everything would be all right.


The airplane was being bounced around like a toy in the fearful arms of the storm. The plane was creaking and the altimeter was now at 12,000 feet. The captain calmly began a descend. He kept moving down to 8,000 feet, then to 6,000, then 5,000, 4,000, 3,000, and then 2,000 feet and the conditions were the same. At this altitude the pilot was now afraid that he might hit a mountain top and so he began to climb again. He ascended up to 8,000 feet and then attempted to contact the control tower with his wireless radio to report his situation, his location and to report the weather conditions. Instead of receiving a weather report, he found that the wireless was dead. He then immediately turned on the plane radio and that too was silent. He felt a cold hand squeeze his heart. He looked at a map and attempted to find his exact location but this was also useless. In his attempt to avoid the terrible storm, he had lost all sense of direction. He also could see that the co-pilot was in a state of total panic. Seeing the panic in the eyes of his co-pilot, the captain again tried to communicate with the tower with his wireless radio.


All of these efforts were in vain. The violent weather had destroyed all forms of communication. He again attempted to find his location on the map and again he came up empty. In similar circumstances, the courage and calmness of the captain usually brings about good results. The captain turned again to his co-pilot and found him motionless. He asked him to be calm because the situation had become very critical and they must keep the passengers from panicking. The passengers were very close to being panic stricken. The stewardess, not knowing about the critical situation they were in, tried every possible way to calm the passengers. Truly, the situation was very critical. The captain, without having any sense of direction, no wireless, no radio, or where he was in this endless storm, was no longer able to pilot the plane properly. He began to fly in circles, climbing and then descending attempting to maneuver out of the storm. The plane was now flying blind.


Time was passing and the plane was scheduled to land at its destination in two and a half hours. The fuel supply was getting critically low. There was no help and no light at the end of the tunnel. The passengers knowing how long the flight should have taken began to cry. Even the stewardess lost control of her emotions and she could no longer offer any help to the passengers.


It was useless for the captain to convey a sense of calm to the passengers. The co-pilot was now a basket case incapable of offering any help. In the midst of this angst, the captain looked at the fuel gage and then began sweating. They had about twenty minutes of fuel left. At this point, even the captain was losing all hope. He felt like crying but he controlled himself. He was now sure that they were headed for a catastrophe. He engaged the automatic pilot, laid his head on the controls and surrendered to the fate that was awaiting them. 
 
Suddenly the pilot was seeing something like a movie playing in his head. His whole life was passing in review. While watching this play out in his mind, he became startled and said to himself, why of course now I understand. In the images of his thoughts, Greece appeared; the island of Mytilene to be exact.


He was of Greek ancestry and his mother hailed from the village Sikamnia, Mytilene. He remembered that as a small boy, he visited his mother’s village, Sikamnia in order to visit his grandmother and his relatives. He even remembered that his pious mother would often speak to him about the miracle working icon of the Archangel Michael in Mandamadou. He remembered that he had visited Mandamadou as a young boy in order to venerate the miracle working icon of the Archangel. He also remembered that he felt a chill go through his body when he first saw the bas-relief of the Archangel Michael. He was now hearing clearly the words of the elders who said to him about the icon: “The Arab, my child, when you call upon him with faith he will always be with you, willing to help you. We have witnessed many miracles first hand during the wars.” Remembering this pilgrimage from his youth, the captain regained hope and truly believed in the power of the Archangel Michael. He lifted up his hands and shouted with a load voice: “My Archangel, my Arab, save us, save us, and I promise to light a candle in your honor as tall as I am and I will also offer you a gold image of our plane. These I will place before your image. “


As the captain was relating this story to a priest of the Church in Mandamadou, Greece, Nicholas Hatzoglou, the captain of the airplane stood up trembling, turned yellow, and made the sign of the Cross. He was still living those unusual circumstances of his life and he continued to tell me the rest of the story with difficulty: “At that moment, the very black clouds opened up below us and the blue sky reappeared. It was like a curtain opening up for a theatrical performance. There below us was the airport of our destination, bathed in sunshine. I thankfully took control of the plane and in a short time we were landing at the airport. Upon landing, I looked at the fuel gage and noticed that we had only five minutes of fuel left. When the opportunity first became available to me, I took leave of my job and came here today, my dear Reverend Father, in order to thank my Saint and my savior. I offer him my thanksgiving and my reverence. I also offer him the two items that I had promised him.”


In his hands, which were trembling, he was holding a gold mock up of his plane. He was fulfilling his fervent promise to the Archangel. I looked at him with emotion. I saw in his weeping eyes the satisfaction one feels in fulfilling a great obligation. My tongue became heavy and I could not talk. My eyes hurt as I was trying to hold back my tears. The only thing I could say was to whisper: “Wanting to show the fortunes of men are not dependent on themselves, but are always held in His Divine Hand, the Maker of all has given you to the kingdoms of the earth as a defender and keeper, that you may prepare all the tribes and peoples for the Kingdom of God that is eternal. Therefore all of us knowing your great service for the salvation of mankind; cry to God in thanksgiving: Alleluia!”

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Blessed immortality is the lot of the holy soul when it is good, and death eternal meets it when it is evil. ( St. Anthony the Great )

Death, for men who understand it, is immortality; while for the simple, who do not understand it, it is death. And one should not fear this death, but ought to fear the perdition of the soul, which is ignorance of God. This is what is terrible for the soul! 
 
Life is the uniting and joining of the mind (spirit), soul and body; while death is not the perdition of these joined parts, but the dissolution of their union; God preserves all this even after the dissolution. Just as a man comes forth from his mother's womb, so does a soul come forth naked from the body. Some are pure and bright, some are spotted by falls, and some are black from many transgressions. 
 
That is why the wise and God-­loving soul, remembering and considering the calamities and extremities that come after death, lives piously lest it be condemned and subjected to them. But the unbelievers, the mindless in soul, do not perceive and they sin, despising what is to come. 
 
Just as on issuing forth from the womb thou dost not remember what was in the womb, so on issuing forth from the body thou dost not remember what was in the body. Just as on issuing forth from the womb thou becamest better and greater in body, so on issuing forth from the body pure and undefiled, thou wilt be better and incorrupt, abiding in the heavens.

Mortal men ought to care about themselves, knowing in advance that death awaits them. For blessed immortality is the lot of the holy soul when it is good, and death eternal meets it when it is evil. Remember that thy youth is past and thy powers exhausted, while thine infirmities have grown and already the time of thy departure is near, when thou wilt give an account of all thy deeds; and know that there, neither will brother redeem brother, nor will father deliver son. Always remember thy departure from the body, and do not let eternal condemnation out of thy thoughts; if thou wilt act thus, thou wilt not sin unto the ages.

St. Anthony the Great

Monday, January 4, 2021

Christianity is a religion of revelation. ( St. Nektarios of Aegina )


Christianity is a religion of revelation.
 The Divine reveals its glory only to those who have been perfected through virtue. Christianity teaches perfection through virtue and demands that its followers become holy and perfect. 
It disapproves of and opposes those who are under the influence of the imagination. He who is truly perfect in virtue becomes through Divine help outside the flesh and the world, and truly enters another, spiritual world; not, however, through the imagination, but through the effulgence of Divine grace. Without grace, without revelation, no man, even the most virtuous, can transcend the flesh and the world.

St. Nektarios of Aegina

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The Ninth Beatitude- Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven.

In the last, the ninth commandment, our Lord Jesus Christ calls especially blessed those who for the sake of Christ and for the true Orthodox faith in Him, patiently bear disgrace, persecution, malice, defamation, mockery, privation and even death. Such a spiritual feat is known as martyrdom. There is no higher spiritual feat than martyrdom.

The courage of Christian martyrs must be distinguished from fanaticism, which is irrational zeal not according to reason. Christian courage must also be distinguished from the lack of feeling brought on by despair or pretended indifference, with which some criminals because of their incorrigible hardness and pride, serve out their sentences and go to execution.

Christian courage is based on the highest of Christian virtues, on faith in God, on hope in God, on love for God and neighbor, on complete obedience and unshaken faith in the Lord God.

The highest form of martyrdom was suffered by Jesus Christ Himself, and in like manner, the Apostles and an innumerable multitude of Christians, who with joy went to martyrdom for the name of Christ.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, and looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be weaned and faint in your minds (Heb. 12:1-3).

For the spiritual feat of martyrdom, the Lord promises a reward in Heaven. But here on earth the Lord glorifies many martyrs for their firm confession of faith with incorruptible bodies and miracles.

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (I Pet. 4:14-16).

Numberless Christians martyrs rejoiced during unspeakable torture, accounts of which are preserved in factual accounts of lives of the Saints. Note: In Roman courts, special scribes were obligated to write protocols (official records) of judicial procedures and legal decisions. Such protocols of interrogations, made in Roman courts during the legal process of Christian martyrs, after the period of persecutions were carefully preserved by the Church. The protocols came to be trustworthy accounts of the feats of martyrdom of the Christians.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Keep saying the Jesus Prayer... ( St.Joseph the Hesychast )

Keep saying the prayer!
 Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!
 Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me! 
This is what will save you. The name of Christ will illumine your mind (nous); it will strengthen your soul; it will help you in the war against the demons; it will cultivate the virtues; and it will become everything for you.
 
 St.Joseph the Hesychast

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The hand of a priest ( Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos )

 

 Taken from Experiences During the Divine Liturgy, Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos


[While the Cherubic hymn is being sung during liturgy the priest reads the prayer which begins with the words, -ed]…”No one who is bound with the desires and pleasures of the flesh is worthy to approach…”

None of the priests ever approaches the Holy Altar, in order to serve the Divine Liturgy, trusting in his holiness. If he is ever fooled and believes that he is holy, he must not perform the Liturgy; in which case we have delusion and heresy. But at this point, we should not say much, for the more we say, the worse it is for us. Here, we do the sign of the Cross, are silent, and we priests ask for God’s mercy.

In order to comprehend what man is worth, for which God’s love can do anything, we ought to give some thought to the high ministry of the Priesthood. The priest, as a human being might not be wealthy, strong, wise and a scholar, but may be humble and insignificant. From the moment, however, he received the gift of the Priesthood and puts on “the grace of priesthood”, from that moment on the Priest receives spiritual power, which surpasses all secular power.

Saint Cosmas Aitolos used to say: “If I ever encounter the emperor of Byzantine. or the king and a poor priest on the street, I will first hasten to kiss the priest’s hand then greet the Emperor. And if I ever encounter an Angel or an Archangel or a Cherubim walking together with a priest on the same road, I will first hasten to kiss the hand of the Priest and then the hand of the Angel.”

The priest’s blessing is Christ’s blessing. It is Christ’s Grace. Whether the priest is young, or elderly, worthy, or unworthy, he bears Christ’s Priesthood, he possesses his Grace and imparts His divine Blessing.

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Five Miracles of Saint Gerasimos of Kefallonia


St. Gerasimos of Kefallonia (Feast Day - August 16 and October 20)



1. A Young Atheist Woman From Australia Converts To Orthodoxy and Becomes A Nun After Seeing the Incorrupt Relics of Saint Gerasimos

The powerful effect the incorrupt relics of Saint Gerasimos the New had a particular effect on a young Australian nun, Anna, who lives at St. Stephen's Monastery on Meteora. She related the following:

I came to Greece in 1988, hoping to get work as an English teacher. I wasn't of Greek parentage, nor did I have any particular interest in classical culture or the arts, but came because Greece sounded interesting. I had not been raised with any religion nor was I looking for one, but soon after I arrived I met some people who were planning to go to Kefallonia, to St. Gerasimos, and invited me along. It seemed a good way to begin seeing the country, and I agreed. When I entered the church and stood before the saint's coffin, I was stunned by what I saw - the incorrupt relics were so obviously a miracle that I knew in myself that there must be a God, and that Orthodoxy was how you worshipped Him. I was baptized and a year later I came to the monastery.

2. The Cave of Saint Gerasimos and Unbelievers

The older church containing the relics of St. Gerasimos is built directly over his cave and pilgrims are welcome to descend the ladder and squeeze through the tiny floor-level entrance that leads into the cave. Local Christians say that only believers can wriggle through the narrow passageway. The wife of an Argostoli priest has informed that, wanting a blessing for her unborn child, she had squeezed through with no trouble when she was fully nine months pregnant, but the thin, lithe young woman whom she brought with her - an unbeliever - couldn't do so.

3. The Epidemic of Cholera in 1760

In 1760, when an epidemic of cholera struck the island, a nun named Akakia had a vision of the saint, praying in front of an icon of the Mother of God, beseeching her to halt the epidemic. The Mother of God spoke from the icon and said, "I have asked my Son, and He will grant you this." Then the saint caught hold of a roll of a cotton-like material wrapped around his staff, and began plucking off many small pieces, scattering them into the air. That night he also appeared to another woman on the island, telling her to go quickly to her father's house - that the infection would not spread to the countryside.

The stories of these visions quickly made the rounds of the villages. One local woman, however, refused to believe the accounts, and scoffed at them saying, "These are stories for children." That night the saint appeared to her in a dream and struck her with his staff, saying, "By this children's story, through the blessing of Panagia, I dispel the sickness from this island." The next morning the woman went straight to the monastery to venerate the saint's relics, telling the nuns of her dream and showing them the bruise on her side where the saint had struck her. They all gave thanks to God.




4. Healing of a Mentally Ill Woman in 1785

In 1785, a mentally ill woman named Susannah came to the monastery and lived there for many months. She never spoke to anyone and ate only if she was given food; otherwise, she went hungry.

One day, after she had been there almost a year she began shrieking loudly during Vespers. The priest came out of the altar and tried to calm her but she screamed all the more until the unnerved cleric finally slapped her, and she was forcibly carried out of church.

That night the priest had a dream that the saint's larnaca (coffin) opened by itself and that St. Gerasimos climbed out. He was holding a book in his hands and motioned the priest over. When the priest came up to him, he hit him hard over the head with the book and asked him, "Did that hurt?" The priest said, "Yes," and the saint responded, "And that hurt me tonight when you slapped that poor woman. Get up now, it's time to go to Matins, and don't ever do it again."

The priest awoke terrified, and ran to the church where he begged the saint's forgiveness. That morning, Susannah was again in church, but this time, she suddenly called out coherently, "Let the priest who hit me yesterday, come and give me something to eat." To the amazement of everyone who knew her, she had been healed.

5. Saint Gerasimos Saves Sailors At Sea From Death

In November 1807, a shipping merchant by the name of Manuel was passing the island on his way to the Peloponnese. When he was in sight of Kefallonia a huge storm blew up. The sailors did all they could to keep the ship afloat, but the intensity of the storm continued to build until they were near despair. On board was a Kefallonian sailor named Ioannis, who had a small icon of St. Gerasimos with him. Shouting to the crew, "St. Gerasimos will save us!" he threw the icon into the sea. When the icon touched the surface of the sea the waves were immediately calmed. The grateful captain ordered the crew to dock in Kefallonia, to pay homage to the saint.



Apolytikion in the First Tone
O believers, let us praise the protector of the Orthodox, the God-bearing miracle-worker lately appearing to us, the incarnate angel, divine Gerasimos. For he has rightly received from God the ever-flowing grace of performing healing. He strengthens those with diseases and he heals those with demons. And therefore he pours out healings to those who honor him.


Saint Gerasimos of Kefallonia

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. ( St. Nektarios of Aegina )

How mistaken are those people who seek happiness outside of themselves, in foreign lands and journeys, in riches and glory, in great possessions and pleasures, in diversions and vain things, which have a bitter end!
 In the same thing to construct the tower of happiness outside of ourselves as it is to build a house in a place that is consistently shaken by earthquakes. 
Happiness is found within ourselves, and blessed is the man who has understood this. 
Happiness is a pure heart, for such a heart becomes the throne of God. 
Thus says Christ of those who have pure hearts: 
"I will visit them, and will walk in them, and I will be a God to them, and they will be my people." (II Cor. 6:16)
 What can be lacking to them? 
Nothing, nothing at all! 
For they have the greatest good in their hearts: God Himself!

St. Nektarios of Aegina