Friday, July 2, 2021

Saying thank you to God... ( St. Basil the Great )

“When you sit down to eat, pray. 
When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. 
If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. 
When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. 
When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”

St. Basil the Great

Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Holy Scriptures , about false miracles

"Do not turn to mediums or seek out spirits, for you will be defiled by them. I am the Lord your God … I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people" (Leviticus 19:31, Lev. 20:6).

"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord , and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you" (Deuteronomy 18:10-13).

"When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn" (Isaiah 8:19-20).

"All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by" (Isaiah 47:13-14).

"So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, 'You will not serve the king of Babylon.' They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish" (Jeremiah 27:9-10).

"The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac" (Hosea 9:7).

"On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision. He will not put on a prophet's garment of hair in order to deceive" (Zechariah 13:4).

Lord Jesus Christ said about false prophets:
"Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. … Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:20-23).

"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters" (Matthew 12:30).

The prophecy of the Savior about the last times:

"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. " (Matthew. 24:24-25).

Apostle John the Theologian:
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1).

Apostle Paul:
"Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron" (1 Timothy 4:1-2).

About the antichrist:

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).

Prophecies of the Apostle John about the time of the antichrist:
"He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed" (Revelation. 13:12-15). "But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation. 19:20).

About the future capital of the world state (Babylon):
"The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride
will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. " (Revelation. 18:23).

Saturday, April 24, 2021

In the Tomb of Lazarus

St. Lazarus’ tomb, Bethany.

Largely ignored by much of Christendom, the Orthodox today celebrate ”Lazarus Saturday” in something of a prequel to next weekend’s Pascha. It is, indeed a little Pascha just before the greater one. And this, of course, was arranged by Christ Himself, who raised His friend Lazarus from the dead as something of a last action before entering Jerusalem and beginning His slow ascent to Golgotha through the days of next week (Orthodox celebrate Pascha a week later than Western Christians this year).

One of the hymns of the Vigil of Lazarus Saturday says that Christ ”stole him from among the dead.” I rather like the phrase. Next weekend there will be no stealing, but a blasting of the gates of hell itself. What he does for Lazarus he will do for all.

Lazarus, of course, is different from those previously raised from the dead by Christ (such as the daughter of Jairus). Lazarus had been four days day and corruption of the body had already set in. ”My Lord, he stinks!” one of his sisters explained when Christ requested to be shown to the tomb.

Steps leading to Lazarus’ tomb, Bethany.

I sat in that tomb last September, as I mentioned in my last post. It is not particularly notable as a shrine. It is today, in the possession of a private, Muslim family. You pay to get in. Several of our pilgrims did not want to pay to go in. I could not stop myself.

Lazarus is an important character in 19th century Russian literature. Raskolnikov, in Crime and Punishment, finds the beginning of his repentance of the crime of murder, by listening to a reading of the story of Lazarus. It is, for many, and properly so, a reminder of the universal resurrection. What Christ has done for Lazarus He will do for all.

For me, he is also a sign of the universal entombment.

That even before we die, we have frequently begun to inhabit our tombs. We live our life with the doors closed (and we stink). Our hearts are often places of corruption and not the habitation of the good God. Or, at best, we ask Him to visit us as He visited Lazarus.

That visit brought tears to the eyes of Christ. The state of our corruption makes Him weep. It is such a contradiction to the will of God. We were not created for the tomb.

I also note that in the story of Lazarus – even in his being raised from the dead – he rises in weakness.

He remains bound by his grave clothes. Someone must ”unbind” him. We ourselves, having been plunged into the waters of Baptism and robed with the righteousness of Christ, too often exchange those glorious robes for grave clothes.

Christ has made us alive, be we remain bound like dead men.

I sat in the tomb of Lazarus because it seemed so familiar.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Why our intention to correct ourselves and lead a holy life remains without result ...

The first and foremost reason why our intention to correct ourselves and lead a holy life remains without result lies in the fact that our intention is often too vague and indefinite. 

A certain sinner, for example, says to himself: “It’s high time for me to stop sinning, time to mend my ways! I repent! I’ll stop sinning!” The intention is quite indefinite. And because of this, although it might be sincere, it is unreliable and may not achieve the desired correction. 

He who has a sincere desire to amend himself must first of all determine exactly what it is that must be corrected. He must determine what his greatest sin is and what means he must use against it, and what dangers he must avoid so as not to fall into it again, since it has become a habit, a part of his life. All this thought and self-examination must come first and only then should a resolve be made, and that resolve should be specific as, for example: “Enough is enough! With God’s help I am no longer going to fall into such-and-such a sin; I’m going to break this bad habit; I’m no longer going to associate with those particular people who encourage me in this habit; I’m going to break off that unhealthy relationship; I’m going to use such-and-such means against this sin; I’m going to arm myself and muster all my forces against it when it begins again to tempt me.” 

The same thing must also be said about the resolution to lead a righteous life. By no means is it enough to content oneself simply by stating the following resolve: “From this time forth I’m going to lead a God-pleasing life.” Such a resolution is not definite enough, and although it may have come from the heart, it is doubtful whether it will have any effect. 

He who desires to abandon a life of sin and live a righteous life must first of all examine which obligations he has most difficulty in fulfilling and does not like to fulfill; what exactly hinders their fulfillment; what he must do, what means he must employ to fulfill them more readily. Having done this, he must make a specific resolve, as for example: “Now, with God’s help I will try hard to fulfill this obligation which until now I have done so poorly; I will apply myself to using such-and-such means towards its fulfillment. 
For example, when someone offends me I will be more patient; I won’t start using insulting and shameful language, or better yet, I won’t answer back at all; in such-and such company I’ll be more careful in what I say; at such-and-such times I’ll try to pray fervently, something I have not done up to now.., and so on.” 

In general, the more definite one’s intention to change one’s sinful life and live righteously, the more it will suit the particular circumstances, the state of one’s soul, one’s relationship with others, etc., and the more hope there is of its bringing it into reality. When something is so definite one can more easily direct one’s thoughts and one’s strength to one subject and thus, of course, more easily achieve the desired goal. 

Another reason why our good intentions fail, is because we do not hold firmly enough to our resolve. Scarcely two or three days pass by after our having made our resolution and we, in our normal daily routine of life amidst our worldly cares and pursuits, have already forgotten our intention, although at the time it was made with proper firmness of purpose. For this reason, if we truly wish our good intention to be realized, then each of us, every morning after our morning prayers, must immediately bring to mind and renew our resolution, saying in our hearts: “I promised God to turn away from this particular sin; I really wanted to fulfill this obligation; I must keep my promise!” Having renewed in this way our good intention, we must diligently pray to God that He would grant us the necessary strength to carry it out. 

Likewise, our intention must be renewed in this way throughout the course of the day. And when evening comes, we should never go to sleep without having first examined our hearts to see how we have spent the day: did we keep our promise to God? And if it happens that we went against our resolve, against our promise, then we must immediately ask God’s forgiveness, and once again renew our resolve and carefully watch over ourselves. This is the way in which those people act who are concerned for the salvation of their souls, and in this way they attain salvation! 

The third reason we fail in our intention to lead a better life, is our excessive fear of the difficulties connected with such an undertaking. A holy life is not attained without work, without sufferings and difficulties; it often takes a prolonged and fierce battle. We must withdraw from occasions to sin, of which there are so many. We must sacrifice various enjoyments which are so pleasant, abandon many worldly pursuits which make life interesting, and endure many unpleasant things which because of our self-love are often so difficult to bear. 

For example, let us suppose that we resolved to withdraw from our natural inclination to become angry. In order to turn away from anger we must quietly endure a lot of what is to us almost unbearable, and to which our usual response would have been a stream of crude words; sometimes we must not justify ourselves even when we are in the right; often we must be silent when we feel the urge to speak; often we must give in to others even when the occasion does not demand it; we must often bear the offenses of others and not reveal our irritation; often force ourselves to patiently endure when we are slandered or laughed at like fools and cowards.
 All this we must endure if we truly desire to realize our intention to withdraw from anger.
Amidst all the difficulties of keeping oneself from anger or any other sin which manifests itself as particularly great, our soul often falls into despondency and all our strength seems to evaporate. In such cases we must immediately bring to mind various sacred truths and experiences which are able to restore our former spirit, our former strength, and give us hope of abandoning the sin from which we decided to turn away. Thus we must remember that no matter how weak a man is, with God’s help he can do and endure all things if only he truly desires and uses it; this is accomplished through the strength that is granted by God.
We must remember the millions of righteous ones, who have gone before us and their self-denial, patience and endurance which they left as an example for us and for the whole world. We must remember that, above all, God desires our correction, and because of this, knowing our weakness and our needs, He will unfailingly come to our aid if only we turn to Him with fervent prayer and make use of the means and the power which He has given to us. 

We must remember that the difficulties which invariably accompany any important undertaking are intimidating only to the lazy and faint-hearted; that only the first steps along the path of correction are unpleasant and difficult; that the farther one goes along such a path the easier and less painful it becomes; that any victory which we gain over our enemy makes us much stronger and better able to endure any further onslaughts. We must more often remind ourselves of the feeling of peace and satisfaction we shall experience when in the last days and hours of our life we look back at our past, at the difficulties we have heroically overcome, at the many sufferings borne with Christian patience, at the countless temptations conquered by our love for God, at all the noble deeds which we performed in secret before God’s eyes alone, at all the favors which we showed our fellow man, at the faithfulness with which we fulfilled our obligations, often forcing ourselves to the utmost to do this. 

Finally, we must more often remind ourselves that for all this we will be rewarded by so much in the life of the age to come that all the difficulties which we overcome here in this life, all the sufferings which we endure in this age for the sake of a righteous life, will appear to us much smaller; in fact, they will appear insignificant, in comparison with the heavenly rewards. 

O, Almighty God! Now we count each minute of trial and suffering and we rarely consider the blessed eternity which delights the souls of Thy righteous and faithful servants. Brother! In your striving towards a God-pleasing life, when you weigh your earthly difficulties and grief, place more often on the scale this eternity! It will outweigh all your trials, all the pleasures of worldly pursuits, pleasures and enjoyments.
The fourth reason that our resolution to lead a better life often fails, lies in the fact that we want immediately to become saints. Many people, when they once feel an aversion to their sinful behavior, make a firm resolve to change their ways and place a good beginning towards this reform; but because this doesn’t happen as quickly as they would like, and whether by habit or rashness they often fall into their old sins, they lose heart and come to the conclusion that it’s impossible for them to change their ways. 

Brother! Sister! People don’t become saints overnight. Our old man does not easily yield to being transformed into the new man. A big tree is not felled by a single stroke of the ax. So it is with each evil passion which’ is so firmly rooted in us. The way to perfection or to spiritual maturity is almost always unnoticeable, just as are so many things in nature. 

A spiritual man passes through various stages of growth, just like the physical man. Much time is spent in childhood before reaching the fullness and strength of manhood. There is a long period of weakness, and only then does one become stronger and stronger, until finally one becomes a man. Only at this age is one capable of doing what is proper to a man. Likewise, a ripened ear of corn is at first only a seed, then a small blade of grass, then a stalk, and finally an ear of corn; but even this ear is not ripe all at once, but grows, then flowers, then it tassels and only then does it become ripe. The same is true of a righteous, life! Even the best man in the world does not suddenly become a saint. His perfection for the most part develops slowly and only little by little. Good earth which accepts into itself a good seed brings forth fruit, says the Lord, in patience. (Lk 8:15). 

To fall, of course, is not good, and it were better not to; but he who falls and then quickly gets up, becomes wiser and more careful, renews his good intention, fervently prays to God for new strength to attain a righteous life. Falls are not such a hindrance for such a man on the path to perfection. At the time of his fall, when he falleth, he shall find a stay, i.e., strength (Sir 3:31) and like the Apostle Paul, strikes ahead towards the mark of the prize of the high calling, forgetting those things which are behind. (Phil 3:13). 

The above, then, are some of the reasons why our good intentions to turn away from sin and lead a better life are often unfulfilled. Let us avoid these pitfalls; let us try to make our resolution as definite as possible; let us remember more often and continually to renew our decision, and let us not become faint-hearted if we do not at once reach perfection, but let us courageously surmount the difficulties we meet along the way in firm hope of God’s help.

From “The Conversations of Metropolitan Gregory of Novgorod,” translated from the monthly periodical of St. Panteleimon’s Monastery on Mt. Athos, January 1899, pp. 15-19.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The essence of Orthodoxy - St. Justin Popovich

What is the essence of Orthodoxy? 
It is the God-man Christ.
 Everything that is Orthodox has a divine-human character: knowledge, the senses, the will, the mind, morality, dogma, philosophy, and life. Divine humanity is the only category in which all the manifestations of Orthodoxy are received and fully operate. 
In all creation, God occupies the first place, man the second. God leads while man is led; God acts and man cooperates. 
God does not act transcendentally, He is not the abstract God of deism, but rather the God of the most immediate historic reality, the God of revelation, the God who became man and lived within the categories of our human existence while appearing everywhere as absolute holiness, goodness, wisdom, justice, and truth.

- St. Justin Popovich

Friday, March 12, 2021

Judgment Sunday Teaches us that God is a Just Judge

On the third Sunday of the Triodion, our Church sets before us the  fearsome Second Coming of the Lord. 
During the previous two Sundays, the
parables of "the Publican and the Pharisee" and especially "the Prodigal Son" were used to emphasize God's infinite compassion and goodness. However, realizing that this could possibly prompt people to incorrectly and falsely hope in God's forgiveness alone, while foolishly ignoring His commandments, living with indifference, persisting in sin, and squandering the time that has been given
to them to acquire salvation, the holy Fathers appointed that we commemorate and bring to mind the Second Coming of Christ on this day in order to underline and remind us that God is not only a compassionate Lord, but also a righteous
Judge Who renders to each man according to his works.
Behold how St. Gregory Palamas affirms the above: 
Last Sunday through the parable of the prodigal who was saved, the Church commemorated God’s incomparable love for mankind. This Sunday it teaches us about His terrifying Judgment to come, following the right order and in accordance with the prophetic sayings: “I will sing of mercy and of judgment” (Ps. 101:1), and, “God hath spoken once: twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God. Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his works” (Ps.62:11-12).

Mercy and forbearance precede the divine Judgment. God Himself is the first possessor of every virtue and embraces them all. He is both just and merciful. But as mercy does not go with judgment, as it is written, “Thou shalt not be merciful to apoor man at judgment” (cf. Prov. 24:23), God rightly allotted a proper time to each, appointing the present for forbearance, the future for retribution. The grace of the Spirit so ordered the rites of the Holy Church, that when we learn that we receive forgiveness of sins from what happens here and now, we may press on while still in this present life to attain everlasting mercy and make ourselves worthy of thedivine love for mankind. For that Judgment is without mercy for the unmerciful.”

Thus, through the recollection of that frightful day, the holy Fathers desire to wake us up from the sleep of indolence, motivate us to live virtuously, and encourage us to show love and compassion toward our fellow man.A certain hymn (specifically, the kontakion) chanted on this Sunday says:

When You come, O God, to the earth in glory, the entire universe will tremble [with fear]. A river of fire will flow forth from Thy judgment seat. Books will be opened, and the secret [deeds of men] will be publicized. At that time, deliver me from the inextinguishable [eternal] fire, and deem me worthy of standing on Your right, O most-righteous Judge.

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


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