Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Easiest way to win over an Atheist ( St. Nikolai Velimirovich )

"For such is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men" (1 Peter 2:15).

Brethren, it is difficult to argue with an atheist; it is difficult to talk with an unreasonable man; it is difficult to convince an embittered man.

It is difficult to convince the atheist, the unreasonable man and the embittered man with words. You will convince them easier by deeds. "They may through observing you by reason of your good works glorify God" (1 Peter 2:12).

Do good deeds to those who wish to argue with you and you will win the argument. One deed of compassion will bring the unreasonable man to his senses and will pacify the embittered man quicker than many hours of conversation.

If atheism, unreasonableness and bitterness stem from ignorance, that ignorance is as a fury, which can quickly be restrained by good works. If you argue with an atheist in his own rabid manner, you strengthen the fury of atheism. If you converse with the unreasonable by derision, the darkness of unreasonableness is increased. If you think you will overcome the embittered man with anger, you will stir up a greater fire of bitterness. A meek and good deed is like water over a fire.

Always remember the holy apostles and their successful methods of behavior with men. If an atheist provokes you, the man does not provoke you but the devil provokes you: man by nature is religious. If the unreasonable man scolds you, the man does not scold you but the devil scolds you: man by nature is reasonable. If the embittered one persecutes you, then it is not the man who persecutes you but the devil who persecutes you: for man by nature is good. The devil provokes you to lengthy arguments and unfruitful conversations and flees from good deeds. Do good work in the Name of Christ and the devil will flee and only then will you have dealings with men, with true men; religious, reasonable and good men. Therefore whatever you do, do in the Name of the Lord.

O All-Good Lord, help us to do good and by good to conquer in Your Name. To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person.. ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

Excessive care about worldly matters is characteristic of an unbelieving and fainthearted person, and woe to us, if, in taking care of ourselves, we do not use as our foundation our faith in God, who cares for us! If we do not attribute visible blessings to Him, which we use in this life, then how can we expect those blessings from Him which are promised in the future? We will not be of such little faith. 
By the words of our Saviour, it is better first to seek the Kingdom of God, for the rest shall be added unto us (see Mt. 6:33).

St. Seraphim of Sarov 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

New Heresies ( Metropolitan Augoustinos Kantiotes of Florina )

New Heresies by +Metropolitan Augoustinos (Kantiotes) of Florina[1]

“We will not deny you, beloved Orthodoxy” – Joseph Vryennios (St. Mark of Ephesus’ spiritual father)

Of late, certain theologians, under the influence of contemporary, world-wide currents, have begun to savour the words “ecumenicity”, “ecumenical spirit”, and “ecumenical movement”, as if they were hard-candy. Ecumenicity; what a beautiful word! And yet, behind these words, lay hidden a most fearful danger for Orthodoxy. What is this danger? We will show you by means of an example.
Imagine a woman, a woman faithful to her husband, a woman who will allow no third party to enter into their relationship, ever mindful of the promises which she had made before God and before men. She is a woman of exceptional beauty, drawing the eye of many a man. On account of her uprightness, however, anyone who dares to touch, or to proposition her, immediately meets with her anger. Should such a one persist, this honourable woman will deliver a strong slap to his face in order bring him to his senses.
Those men who are learned in this vile business, however, will try another method. These will try to uncover what it is that this woman likes; does she perhaps love poetry, or philosophy, or art? By means of these things the secret admirer will trap her. With great deftness he will begin having innocent conversations with her on those subjects that are beloved to her. “What a wonderful poem!”; “What a beautiful painting!”; “What a wonderful play!”; “How sweet a piece of music!” And thus begins the dialogue. Gradually the unsuspecting woman is lured into longer conversations with the deceiver who, while his tongue speaks of philosophy and art, his heart leaps at the hope of taking the woman for himself. Finally, after an air of great familiarity and mutual understanding has been achieved through these conversations, the door is opened to the foul deed, the shameful union. Just as the most-evil serpent succeeded in beguiling Eve by means of a simple conversation, in like manner the seed of shameful union was sown.
Did you catch what we are trying to say, beloved? We have spoken in a parable.
The woman concerning which we have spoken is our Orthodox Church. She is this beauty. She is the woman who, according to the Book of Revelation is “clothed in the Sun”, who wears “upon her head a crown of twelve stars”, and who has “the moon under her feet”.[2] It is the Orthodox Church which has remained faithful to the Lord, to the eternal bridegroom. It is she who has kept pure the tradition of the Lord and of the Apostles – both written and unwritten – in accordance with the God-inspired call to, “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.”[3] It is she, the Orthodox Church, which for nineteen centuries has fought the hard and bloody battle against various deceptions, against the various heresies which have sought to pollute and corrupt her holiness. One of the worst of these heresies is Papism, which, on account of its delusions, its authoritarian spirit, and its atrocities, caused the rise of Protestantism and the fracturing of all of Christendom. Yes, the Papists are heretics. The enemies of the Orthodox Church, including Papism to be sure, know well that she has persevered in the faith of her Fathers. Yet, having been persuaded through many examples that they cannot conquer that fortress which is Orthodoxy by means of a frontal attack, these enemies have recently begun trying by other means. They have begun a new war, a war of peace, a war worse than the Crusades. Do you not hear the voice of the serpent, seeking to corrupt the minds of Orthodoxy, leading us away from our simplicity?[4]
Here is what the serpent says: O, Orthodox Church! Why do you keep your distance? Why are you afraid of me? I am no dragon; I am a sweet angel bearing the message of love. I am not going to hurt you. Keep your dogmas and your traditions. Leave these things to the theologians…I invite you into my room to discuss other matters. Let us make a common stand against hunger, against poverty, against atheism, against communism, against war. Do these matters not move you? Does this proposition not excite you? Come then, let us begin our conversation on high, on the level of ecumenicity, on the level of mutual understanding. You will see just how beautiful our coming together can be!
O, Orthodox Church! Our suffering mother! Will you accept this proposition? Will you enter into dialogue with Papism? Can you not see the danger inherent in this proposition? That those who ineptly and unworthily represent you are creating conditions favorable to your enemies to such a fearful degree that you, without even taking notice, will fall into the arms of Papism. And what will follow then? A union, a pseudo-union, spiritual adultery, a most vile act; something which ought never to have occurred, and which will require centuries of repentance from those Orthodox who played the role of pimp for the Orthodox Church. The hour will come when these will sigh and say: “Let the language which we spouted concerning ‘ecumenicity’ and ‘mutual understanding’ cease; let these feet which ran to bring together Orthodoxy and wolves in sheep’s clothing become leprous; let these hands which signed ecumenical epistles and documents fall off!”
This, my beloved, is the famous ‘theory of ecumenicity’ which our leaders savour!

We repeat: the Ecumenical Movement, under whose umbrella gather all manner of heresies, represents a danger to the Orthodox Church. It deprecates the importance of the dogmas which, having been miraculously articulated in the brief definitions of the Ecumenical Councils, and which are the skeleton, the backbone without which the body becomes a limp and formless lump. It deprecates the Holy Canons, which the ecumenists call obsolete, rusty weapons. To put it concisely, the ecumenists deprecate the Orthodox Church as a whole, saying that it is self-centered, that it is a blasphemy for us to consider her to be the one true Church, possessing the genuine truth of Divine Revelation. Within this context the dogmas and the moral life, inseparably joined in the Orthodox Church, tend to evaporate, leaving behind nothing but a fraudulent version of love. The theory of ecumenicity, the theory which calls all different peoples to live together in the name of some tenuous peace, a theory supported within worldly and political circles in our century and which has already been applied to the spiritual sphere where compromise is unacceptable, will ultimately lead to conflict and turmoil, truly, to Babel.
Leaven, if it becomes contaminated, loses its ability to make things rise; Orthodoxy, the most excellent leaven, the leaven of truth, is capable of leavening the whole lump, but only so long as it remains unpolluted by foreign ingredients, so long as it remains pure. For this reason the followers of this theory of ecumenicity are the enemies of Orthodoxy. For this reason we do not hesitate to call this movement – the Ecumenical movement – a new heresy, from which the Orthodox Church must be protected.
In conclusion, during these critical moments when the Orthodox Church stands in danger, we call out to the faithful from our own watchtower: “Orthodox faithful! Remember that Church, of which you are children. Remember the rivers of blood our Fathers spilt to keep our Faith unadulterated; not one iota did they permit to be subtracted or added to our Faith. Remember the rallying cry of the heroes of the Revolution of 1821. These men – may their memory be eternal – struggled first for the faith, and then for their homeland. All of these heroes and martyrs – known and unknown – call to us from their graves: “Stand firm upon the bulwark of Orthodoxy!”
[1] This article may be found under the title, “Νέα Άιρεσις” in the book, “Πνευματικά Σαλπίσματα Ορθοδόξου Ζωής και Ομολογίας” (Thessalonki: 2008), 109-114.
[2] Revelation 12:1-2.
[3] 2 Thessalonians 2:15.
[4] See 2 Corinthians 11:3. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

How does the devil confirm sinners in their slavery to sin? ( St.Nikodemos the Hagiorite )

When the devil keeps a man in slavery to sin, he takes special care to darken him more and more by spiritual blindness, banishing from him every good thought, which could bring him to realise the
perniciousness of his life.

Not only does he banish thoughts,which could lead to repentance and turn the man to the path of
virtue, but instead of them he implants evil and depraved thoughts,at the same time presenting opportunities for committing the sin, which is most habitual to him, and enticing him to fall into it or into other more grievous sins as often as possible. Thus the poor sinner becomes more and more blind and darkened. This blindness strengthens in him the habit and constant impulse to go on ever sinning and sinning. Led from sinful action to greater blindness, and from blindness to greater sins, the unhappy man whirls in this vortex and will do so right up to death itself, unless special Divine grace is sent to save him.

If a man finds himself in this perilous state and wishes to be freed from it, then, as soon as a good thought, or rather, a suggestion comes to him, calling him from darkness to light and from sin to virtue, he should immediately and without delay accept it with his whole attention and desire, and put it at once into practice with all diligence, calling from the bottom of his heart to the generous Giver of all blessings: ‘ Help me, 0 Lord God, help me quickly, and let me no more linger in this sinful darkness.” Let him never weary’ in appealing to God in these or similar words. At the same time let him also seek help on earth, by turning to those who know for advice and guidance as to how better to free himself from the bonds of sinful slavery that hold him.

If he cannot do it immediately, he should do so as soon as the chance presents itself, at the same time never ceasing to appeal to Lord Jesus, crucified for us, and to His Holy Mother, the Immaculate Virgin, imploring them to have mercy on him and not to deprive him of their speedy help. He should know that victory and triumph over the enemy lie in not delaying and in quick readiness to follow a right prompting.

Taken From"Unseen Warfare"By Saint Nikodemos The Hagiorite".

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

God loves man very much; He knows very well the problems of each one of us ( St. Paisios )

God loves man very much; He knows very well the problems of each one of us, and wishes to help us before we ask Him to do so. Since God is omnipotent, there are no difficulties which He cannot overcome, except one. 
The difficulty God faces, and I repeat, it is the only one, is that He “cannot” help us when our soul is not humble. God “feels sad” because, while He sees His creature suffer, He “cannot” offer any help. Whatever help He offers, it will harm the person because he lacks a humble mindset.

St. Paisios

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Importance of the Jesus Prayer ( St. Paisos )

Many ask why is this Jesus prayer so important. It is not as many eastern meditation practices teach to gain a state of bliss or some psychic experience. The purpose is to keep our soul connected with God so we can live according to His will.

Elder Paisos puts it this way,
The soul must be constantly ready and alert and always in contact with the spiritual headquarters, that is, God. Only then, it will feel secure, full of hope and joy.
When we learn to pray continually, we gain an sense of security because God is always with us to guide and help us no matter what situation we encounter. We are never left to rely solely our own thoughts and reason, but always have God at our side.

The Elder says,
The more we pray, the more secure we feel, on a spiritual basis, of course.

Source: Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, p 79

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The awful stench of impure spirits ( St. Nikolai Velimirovich )

Among other mysterious perceptions from the world of spirits, the saints also had perceptions of sweet fragrances from good spirits and foul stenches from impure spirits.

During every appearance of luminous, pure spirits, a life-giving and sweet fragrance wafted about; and during every appearance of dark and impure spirits, a suffocating, unbearable stench filled the air.

The saints were able to discern which passion possessed a man by the kind of stench he emanated. Thus it was that St. Euthymius the Great recognized the stench of the passion of adultery in the monk Emilian of the Lavra of St. Theoctistus. Going to Matins one morning, Euthymius passed by Emilian's cell and smelled the stench of the demon of adultery. Emilian had not committed any physical sin, but had adulterous thoughts that were being forced into his heart by the demon, and the saint already sensed it by its smell.

The power of this perception once revealed itself even more wondrously in St. Hilarion the Great. A certain avaricious miser had sent some of his vegetables to Hilarion. When they were brought to Hilarion for a meal, the saint said: "Take these away from here. I cannot stand the stench that comes from these vegetables! Do you not smell how they reek of avarice?" When the brethren were amazed by these words, Hilarion told them to take the vegetables to the oxen, and they would see that not even the oxen would eat them. Indeed, the oxen merely sniffed at them, and turned their heads away in disgust.

St. Nikolai Velimirovich