Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Thank God for everything that happens ( Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetras )

Above all pray without ceasing and thank God for everything that happens to you

(Rule of Anthony the Great)

Anthony the Great is a realist. His rules or canons aren’t some formula he’s found and thrown to us. Each of them has something unique concerning the life of the monk and, if one is broken, everything comes crashing down. He says we have to pray without ceasing but at the same time thank God for everything that happens to us. He uses a coordinating conjunction because these two things can’t be separated, they go together. We thank God for pleasant things, but even more for something else: in life, matters don’t always turn out as we would want them to. We pray, for instance, and it seems that God doesn’t listen. We ask for our health, and our illness worsens. We ask God to grant us certain things and He gives us nothing. Everything’s back to front.

People who don’t learn to thank God for everything, especially for adversity, will never advance even an inch beyond where they were when their mothers bore them. They’ll make no progress. And, of course, when their mothers bore them, such people were innocent babes, they had a natural sanctity, whereas we have cruelty, and knowledge that makes us guilty. So we have to learn to thank God. When we have bad thoughts, when our brother says something and we feel hatred within us, we must, at that very time, thank God and smile at our brother. Unless we do so, it’s impossible to advance a step, because everything will seem perverse to us. And then, in particular, others and our circumstances will cause us to have bad thoughts, temptations, passions and contrariness.

Ceaseless prayer and gratitude to God for all that happens to us are the necessary conditions for a natural life. If people don’t thank God for everything, they can’t even pray, nor live in the monastic state. People have to be grateful for whatever happens to them in the monastery, whether that comes from their inner world or from the brotherhood, from enemies or from demons. For instance, a monk has bad thoughts which torment him. He shouldn’t be worried, but should rejoice and thank God. He should say to the demon: “Get behind me, Satan” and send him on his way, or, if he refuses to leave, the monk should be able to say: “The bed’s big enough for the two of us. Sleep with me. Just turn over onto the other side so that I don’t have to put up with your foul breath”. The demon will then leave like lightning.

Unceasing prayer and gratitude for everything are directly connected to our personal rule. In other words, anyone can perform his rule when he learns to pray ceaselessly. And anyone who performs his rule can have unceasing prayer. If he wants to separate his rule from unceasing prayer, both will come tumbling down. This is basic and we must remember it. Miss your rule for two days and you’ll see that you’ll forget to say “Glory to you, our God” even once a day. That’s a law.

Archim. Aimilianos of Simonopetra, Νηπτική ζωή και Ασκητικοί κανόνες (Neptical life and ascetic rules), Indiktos Eds, Athens 2011, pp. 5-6.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Akathist to St. Paisios the Athonite

Kontakion 1

Let us believers with one voice all praise him who was sent by God in these times of trial for our comfort and guidance, Paisius the wonderful, who struggled graciously and pleasingly for the Master, burning with love for the whole world and pledged his heart for us and for our salvation. And let us call out to him in thanksgiving, saying: Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Ikos 1

God ordained that thou wast born in the blessed land of Cappadocia, the cradle of a countless multitude of saints, to whom thou too wast added in perfect worthiness, shining forth together with them and unceasingly guiding us to repentance. Therefore we praise thee with great joy, saying:

Rejoice, for thou didst make thyself a precious follower of the saints of Cappadocia!

Rejoice, for thou didst wholly liken thyself to them as a true bearer of God!

Rejoice, most fair and fragrant flower, who hast blossomed for our enlightenment!

Rejoice, wellspring of heavenly grace, who refreshest the whole world!

Rejoice, sweetest food, who fillest the souls that are starved of right teaching!

Rejoice, receptacle that hast gathered all our weaknesses, troubles and sorrows!

Rejoice, pillar of fire, who art the unshakable support of those that desire to gain salvation!

Rejoice, star that shinest in the firmament of the Church, guiding us to the everlasting mansions!

Rejoice, for thou wast shown to be a blessing of God and a sign of His ineffable mercy!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 2

O Blessed Father, thou wast chosen from thy mother's womb to give thyself up to God in all things and thus become a precious vessel unto Him, for the salvation and guidance of all that put their hope in thee. To Him, Who worked great wonders and mercy through thee, for such a blessing we all sing with joy the song: Alleluia!

Ikos 2

The baptism which thou, O Father, didst receive from the hands of the saint of God, Arsenius, was a sign of God’s grace resting on thee. For seeing thy many gifts in spirit, from thine early infancy he blessed thee to be his disciple and bear his name. Therefore, despite our unworthiness, we honour thee, saying:

Rejoice, for thou wast found worthy to be baptized by Saint Arsenius the Cappadocian!

Rejoice, for he foresaw all that was to come to pass with thee!

Rejoice, for his spirit rejoiced, seeing such blessed fruit sprung forth from the flock that he shepherded!

Rejoice, for on account of this he cared for thee unceasingly through all his earthly life!

Rejoice, for even after departing to heaven he did not forsake thee, but all the more interceded for thee!

Rejoice, for thou too didst honour him as befitting, piously reckoning him to be thy father in Christ!

Rejoice, for thou didst struggle heartily for his glorification, gathering testimonies of his wondrous life!

Rejoice, for the Saint of God blessed thee to find his most beloved relics, which became a fount of countless healings!

Rejoice, for lovingly thou didst lay his revered body in the monastery founded by thee at Souroti!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 3

Moving to Greece because of the tyrannical Turkish persecution, thy parents came to the land of Konitsa, and, sacrificing thyself, O father, thou didst begin to ascend the godly ladder of perfection. For even since childhood, thou wast shown to be to be a guiding light for all those around thee, who, seeing thy precious gifts, glorified God, saying: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

Instructed by the example of thy parents, from a young age thou didst strive with burning zeal for the love of Christ, showing the deeds of a perfect man. For following thy blessed mother, before long thou didst begin to fast strictly and pray unceasingly to God, a hermit by life, yet a child by age. Wondering at the manliness of thy heart, with joy we sing to thee thus:

Rejoice, for still young thou didst wholly forsake the fleeting lusts of this world!

Rejoice, for through perfect fasting thou didst preserve unspoiled the crown of virginity!

Rejoice, for thy youth did not prevent thee from acquiring unceasing prayer in solitude!

Rejoice, for instead of revelling in childish games, thou didst delight in ever being with Christ and His saints!

Rejoice, for on account of this thou didst avoid the friendship of those that sundered thee from thine ardent love!

Rejoice, for thou didst not only strive for outward things, but also adorned thy soul with all virtue!

Rejoice, for thou didst follow the kindness and devoutness of thy blessed mother!

Rejoice, for she set thee an unspoiled example of love and utter self-sacrifice!

Rejoice, for we all wonder at the courage with which thou didst begin to fight the good fight!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 4

Called to battle to defend thy country from the unbelievers, O Father, thou didst shine forth in thy boundless courage. For, wholly forsaking the love of self, thou didst ever seek to be amidst peril, in order to spare those that fought together with thee. And seeing this, they all thanked God for such support, saying: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

O Blessed Father, thou didst use the war as a means of sanctification, for thou didst unceasingly grow in love beyond passion, sacrificing thy soul for the sake of thy friends. And thus thou didst win immortal crowns from Christ our God, Who makes Himself a hundredfold reward for all sacrifice. Understanding this, we too hasten to bring words like these to praise thee:

Rejoice, for thou wast a wonderful example of utter self-sacrifice in battle!

Rejoice, for thou didst utterly scorn this earthly life, thus earning heavenly life!

Rejoice, for thou didst not lose thy piety in the dread perils which thou didst endure!

Rejoice, for through the greatness of thy soul, thou didst make thyself a light of sanctification to those around thee!

Rejoice, for thou didst help in and out of season all in trouble and sorrow!

Rejoice, for thou didst utterly overcome human fear, arming thyself with iron courage!

Rejoice, for fighting against the enemies of thy country, thou didst also secretly fight against the enemies of Thy soul!

Rejoice, for although thou didst wish to die in place of thy friends, God shielded thee as His most beloved one!

Rejoice, for through the wonderful power of thy soul, thou didst show us also the path to perfection!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 5

With burning zeal thou didst forsake the world, O Father, and wholly dedicate thyself to Christ, joining the army of monks, who unceasingly struggle to overcome their nature. And in a short time thou didst become an angel in the flesh, wholly clothing thyself in Him, to Whom we too humbly sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

Thou didst withdraw to the blessed desert of Sinai in order to serve Christ, O Blessed Father, and overcoming the lusts of the world, thou didst become perfect man, shining forth with all virtue and burning with true love for God, Who through thee bestowed on us the abundance of His mercy. Therefore, despite our unworthiness, we too thank thee, saying:

Rejoice, angelic man, for thou didst reckon all worldly lusts as vanity!

Rejoice, for thou didst strive for three years in the harsh desert of Sinai!

Rejoice, for unknown by all, thou didst live there in a hidden cave, enduring heat and frost!

Rejoice, for there thou didst fight unto blood against all desires!

Rejoice, for through thy great meekness, thou hast utterly defeated the cunning demons!

Rejoice, for thou didst wash from thyself all the filth of sin, becoming a true light of Christ!

Rejoice, for thou didst begin to pray with fervent tears for the whole world!

Rejoice, for seeing thy overwhelming sacrifice, God filled thee with gifts beyond nature!

Rejoice, for in thy narrow cave, thou wast vouchsafed countless revelations of divine grace!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 6

After fighting the good fight in Sinai, O Father, thou wast called by the Mother of God to her earthly garden, the Holy Mount of Athos, the blossom and light of Orthodoxy. And foreseeing there the place of thy perfection, thou didst thank the Most Holy Queen for her wondrous protecting veil, with which she unceasingly shieldeth the whole world from troubles and sufferings; and with joy thou didst sing to her Son the sweet song: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

Arriving on the Holy Mountain and taken to many places by the grace of God, thou didst ascend the ladder of holiness, O Blessed Father, like a wise bee gathering from everywhere the sweetest spiritual nectar. And afterward thou didst become the son of Father Tikhon, the Spirit-bearing Elder who was full of virtue and whom thou didst follow in absolute obedience. Therefore, with feeble voices we sing to thee thus:

Rejoice, for God foreordained glorification for thee on blessed Mount Athos!

Rejoice, for He entrusted thee to the care of His Most Pure Mother, Who guarded thee as Her beloved son!

Rejoice, for overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, thou didst wander over the whole Mountain, seeking out fathers of holy life!

Rejoice, for thou didst wonder at their unceasing prayers, through which God sheddeth His mercy on the whole world!

Rejoice, for thou didst strive to write their lives too, for the glory of God and the profit of men!

Rejoice, for afterward thou didst become the disciple of Blessed Father Tikhon, the one perfect in holiness!

Rejoice, for thou didst serve him with endless love, in all things trusting in his wise guidance!

Rejoice, for seeing thy utter obedience, God also gave thee the gift to abide in thy holy father!

Rejoice, for after his repose, Blessed Tikhon revealed to thee that he would pray for thee unceasingly!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 7

Perfecting thyself in absolute love, thou didst make thyself a tool of God, Who began to work through thee with great power. For He made thee a comfort for all those that were troubled and a guide for those that were darkened in sin. We all thank God, O Father, for He gave thee to us for our salvation, and we sing to Him thus: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father that is in heaven, said the Saviour of the world with true voice. For in thee too, O Father, his word was fulfilled with all power. Therefore we praise thee too, saying:

Rejoice, thou who hast taught the world through books enlightened by the Holy Spirit!

Rejoice, thou who through words of great profit hast dispelled the ignorance of our times!

Rejoice, trumpet of the Spirit, who heralded to all the joy of repentance!

Rejoice, wondrous prophet, who showed us that we live in the end times!

Rejoice, merciful healer of all diseases which cannot be healed!

Rejoice, precious carer for all whose souls are burdened with sorrows!

Rejoice, godly oil, that hast cleansed all our wounds!

Rejoice, heavenly peace, that hast brought so many broken families back together!

Rejoice, skilful guide, that hast removed all devilish snares from among the people!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 8

Seeing the terrible struggle conducted by the enemy of salvation against the family blessed by God, thou didst gird thyself with the weapon of the word, teaching spouses that only patience, long-suffering, forbearance and self-sacrifice with love can ensure the peace of their homes. Unceasingly we glorify God for sending thee, O Blessed Father, to show us the right way, and we sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 8

Give me Christian mothers and I will give you saints to change the world, said the godly Chrysostom. And touched by this truth, thou didst ever struggle with prayers and advice, showing faithful spouses that peace in the family is fruit of the Holy Spirit, and that they must wisely strive for this. We all thank thee for thine effort to bring healing to our families, so cruelly struck by temptations, saying:

Rejoice, intercessor before God for the harmony of those in married life!

Rejoice, for the faithful spouses whom thou didst advise to live in moderation and holiness!

Rejoice, for thou didst teach them lovingly and unselfishly to bear one another’s weaknesses!

Rejoice, for thou didst show the parents that through prayer the grace of God descendeth on the whole family, bringing peace and happiness!

Rejoice, for thou didst struggle against all sins, seeing them as the cause of the falling apart of families!

Rejoice, for thou didst make thyself an unyielding reprover of the horrible slaughter of infants!

Rejoice, for thou didst tell faithful mothers that through the example of their lives they can turn their children into saints!

Rejoice, for thou didst show the young that through obedience they attract the mercy of God and a peaceful life!

Rejoice, for thou didst beseech them to earn their parents’ blessing, through which cometh also the blessing of the Holy Spirit!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 9

Let us now joyfully praise Paisius, our intercessor, who through his heartfelt prayers miraculously healed all our sufferings, both in body and soul. And let us sing with thanksgiving to God, Who is glorified in the Holy Trinity: Alleluia!

Ikos 9

O Father, thou didst make thyself the healer of all diseases through the gift given to thee by God. For burning with love and pity for those tormented by afflictions, thou didst selflessly pray for their relief, teaching them to thank God for all things. We all praise thee with one voice, saying:

Rejoice, strong weapon against the horrible disease of cancer!

Rejoice, tireless carer for those that suffer in terrible pain!

Rejoice, wellspring of healing, in which all those wounded in soul refresh themselves!

Rejoice, banisher of demons, for with thy meekness thou didst crush all the wickedness and tyranny of the devil!

Rejoice, most merciful father, for thou couldst not bear to see the people crushed under the weight of their sufferings of body and soul!

Rejoice, for on account of this thou didst take upon thyself all our troubles and sorrows!

Rejoice, for thou didst selflessly pray that God might give thee our weaknesses!

Rejoice, for thou didst teach us that all sorrows come through straying from God and His commandments!

Rejoice, thou who hast shown us that the reward for those that suffer with patience and glorify God is ineffable!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 10

The Lord and Saviour of the world promised a great reward to those that would strive in righteousness for the perfection of others. And though a simple monk and unlearned in worldly things, thou, O Blessed Father, wast gifted with wisdom by the Spirit of the Lord Himself, to guide thousands on the path of salvation. Unto now thou prayest for them to God, to Whom with joy we too sing: Alleluia!

Ikos 10

On account of thy complete virtue, God adorned thee with gifts beyond nature, which thou didst use for His glory and the profit of men. For thou didst make thyself a father of countless believers, who, beset by the terrible temptations of our times, sought thee as a heavenly haven. And therefore we ask thee to accept us too among thy spiritual children and allow us to sing with thanksgiving to thee thus:

Rejoice, for thou didst teach the people to struggle against the evil thoughts sown in their minds by the enemy of our salvation!

Rejoice, for shining with the gift of discernment, thou didst at once reveal to thy sons whether their thoughts were from God or from the devil!

Rejoice, for by the grace of God thou knewest the depths of the hearts of men!

Rejoice, for having great wisdom, thou hast brought to naught all the cunning snares of the evil one!

Rejoice, for thou didst bring many to repentance through thine unfeigned love!

Rejoice, for thou didst make thyself a wise reproof of the proud and stubborn!

Rejoice, for thou wast a tender caress for those in despair and overwhelmed by temptations!

Rejoice, for thou didst weep unceasingly for all that looked to thee as a true hope of salvation!

Rejoice, for on the day of judgement thou shalt say to God with sweet joy: Behold I and the children that Thou hast given me!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 11

Becoming a perfect monk, O Father, and full of the grace of God, thou didst make thyself the steadfast hope of the unconsoled souls of those who desired to dedicate themselves wholly to Christ. And in thy gifts they all saw in thee a guide enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Therefore we praise God, Who did not deprive His flock of shepherds of holy life, saying: Alleluia!

Ikos 11

Thou didst found a convent in Souroti, where thy finest spiritual daughters would dedicate themselves to Christ the Bridegroom with great love. And then thou didst lead them to perfection through thy most wondrous counsel, as a loving and long-suffering father, who is to us also an undeceiving guide. Therefore we all bless thee, saying:

Rejoice, for thou didst found the convent of Saint John the Theologian in Souroti!

Rejoice, for this became a haven of salvation for souls that thirsted for Christ!

Rejoice, for thou didst strive in and out of season to make the nuns into perfect brides of our Lord!

Rejoice, for thou didst teach them true monastic life, signifying to forsake the world and its lusts!

Rejoice, for thou didst strive unceasingly to kindle their zeal for blessed asectic feats!

Rejoice, for thou didst guide them to frequent confession of sins, through which all the devil’s works are utterly despoiled!

Rejoice, for thy counsel fell on fruitful earth and refreshed the whole world!

Rejoice, for thou didst struggle diligently against the spirit of this world, which doth terrible harm to monastic life!

Rejoice, for through thy courage and love thou didst make thyself an example of spiritual victory for all monks!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 12

Great was the grace of God on thee, O Blessed Father, and also His great mercy, for on account of thy great self-sacrifice, the Almighty vouchsafed thee wonderful revelations and joys beyond belief. We too rejoice, seeing the reward that God giveth His saints, and we beg Him to make us too partakers thereof and we sing to Him: Alleluia!

Ikos 12

Even from this earth, O Father, thou didst taste of the joys of heaven, prepared by our All-Merciful God for all that serve Him with love. For although the struggles which the evil one conducted against thee were terrible, so much greater were the consolations through which God strengthened thee in virtue. Therefore, in humble praise, we sing to thee:

Rejoice, all-sweet light, through which Christ shineth forth to the whole world!

Rejoice, wonderful flame that thou kindlest in us with the love of God!

Rejoice, for thou didst make thyself the perfect abode of heavenly grace!

Rejoice, for in thee it bore all the fruits of holiness!

Rejoice, for God overwhelmed thee with His gifts beyond nature!

Rejoice, for thou didst taste of everlasting and uncreated light!

Rejoice, for thou didst live with the Saints as with thy close friends!

Rejoice, for the Most Gracious Mother of our Lord appeared to thee to strengthen thee in sorrows!

Rejoice, ineffable wonder, for thou wast vouchsafed to speak to Christ Our Lord and God Himself!

Rejoice, Blessed Father Paisius, enlightener of the latter times!

Kontakion 13

Thou, O Father, didst say with words enlightened by the Holy Spirit that many saints would have desired to live in our times, in order to strive for salvation. For Thou didst herald to us, who live in darkness, that the time is almost ready and that those that now struggle valiantly to win their salvation will receive a martyr’s reward. For this we thank God, Who with mercy looked on His people, sending His Saint for our enlightenment, and thus with voices of joy we gladly sing to our All-Gracious Master the song: Alleluia!

This Kontakion is read 3 times.

And then again Ikos 1: 
 God ordained that thou wast born ... and 
Kontakion 1: 
Let us believers with one voice all praise...Then this:

Prayer to our Blessed Father Paisius the Athonite

O beloved Father Paisius, thou that didst ascend the rungs of holiness and become perfect in virtue, therefore gaining boldness before our Merciful God, do thou pray to Him, Whom thou didst serve unceasingly all thy life, not to let us perish for the multitude of our sins, but to turn us back to blessed repentance. Thou, who on earth didst heal with such love our countless weaknesses, diseases both of body and soul, canst all the more now deliver us from all sufferings. So do thou have mercy on us, O Father, through thy immeasurable love and godly kindness, not forsaking us that are full of sins.

Do thou, who didst never tire of guiding us to salvation and bearing our weaknesses whilst thou wast here with us, now grant us too the wisdom to overcome the temptations which the wicked devil doth ever weave around us and through which he would destroy our souls for eternity. Enlighten us to know the will of God for us and pray to the Master that He might give us power to fulfill it with thanksgiving. Do thou, who didst set an unwavering example of courage and self-sacrifice, strengthen us also to follow Thy virtue, that we may win an everlasting crown, of which thou thyself wast found most worthy. Thus, O Father, do not forsake us, who ceaselessly anger our long-suffering God, but rather stand with boldness before His throne, interceding for us with tears, that God may give us for thy sake most dear salvation. And thus, thanking thee with all our heart for all that thou hast done and still doest for us, let us also thank our Most Gracious God, Who is glorified in the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen!

St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain (+1994)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The Differences Among Trials ( Elder Joseph the Hesychast )

Trials, or temptations (πειρασμοὶ -- peirasmoi) are so called because they engender experience (πεῖρα -- peira), since in the unseen warfare they do indeed afford spiritual knowledge to those who are mindful. Anything is called a temptation if it is in opposition to our struggle for faith and true piety as we press on towards submission to God, but they are sub-divided into various kinds, according to the understanding of the Fathers. There are the trials of those actively engaged in the struggle, so that they may make additional gains and progress in their struggle. There are the trials of the slothful and unwilling, to make them beware of things that are harmful and dangerous. There are the trials of those who are drowsy or sleeping, in order to wake them up. Then again there are the trials of those who have distanced themselves and gone astray, to make them draw near to God. Different again are the trials of the righteous and friends of God, so that they may inherit the promise. There are also trials of the perfect, which God permits in order to bring them forward in the Church for the strengthening of the faithful and as an example to be emulated. There is also another kind of trial, again of the perfect, such as those endured by our Lord and the Apostles, who fulfilled the law of communion with the world by taking up the trials which are ours.

Spiritual fathers also participate in this law of ‘communion’ by bearing the burdens and the weaknesses of their spiritual children through prayers and other struggles, supplementing what is lacking in others. There is also another way, according to the Fathers, in which one person may be a sharer in someone else’s trials, and this is as follows: the accuser shares in the trials of the accused, the slanderer in those of the slandered, the wrongdoer in those of the wronged -- especially when those who are wronged endure the harm done to them without a murmur.

We shall speak at this point of the trials of those who are making progress as a result of their attentiveness and willingness to struggle, which -- again in the judgment of our Fathers -- are usually the following: indolence, heaviness of body, languor of the limbs, listlessness, confusion of the mind, suspicion of bodily sickness -- faintheartedness, in other words -- darkening of the thoughts, being abandoned by human help, deprivation in their external needs and the like. All these things, when -- by God’s consent -- they befall participants in the struggle, give rise to a sense of dereliction. Their faith then begins to waver, as if the hope which had given them heart up till then had been cut off. But secretly grace consoles them so that they do not change their regime, because it convinces them that the trial has not come from themselves, since everything testifies that they have not abandoned their consistent good practice. After facing this difficulty and receiving the mystical consolation of grace, they turn with faith and yearning towards God who has power to save them, and fall down in humility asking His salvation, which is the end to which they have endured these trials. Such, according to the Fathers, are the trails of those who are advanced and making progress in spiritual matters.

In those who chance to neglect their duties or, which is the most terrible, fall into self-conceit and pride, the trials are different and harsher, in the same way as surgical operations and excisions are called for in cases of serious illness. The demons at first make war on them openly and quite shamelessly and insistently, and beyond their strength (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13). They experience a darkening of the mind so that they lose the power of discrimination altogether, and imbecility and idiotic thoughts abound; an intense war of the flesh, pressing their will to go contrary to nature; anger for no reason and intractability in whatever concerns their own will; quarrelling on the spur of the moment and rebuking people at random; blasphemous thoughts against God; a loss of courage in the heart; being mocked by the demons, secretly and openly; lack of restraint in idle talk and, in general, a desire for the world and for idle vanities. After that, trials which are severe and hard to dispel: strange and unusual symptoms of illness and painful wounds, a poverty and dereliction that is extraordinary and defies consolation, and all other things that seem impossible and insoluble, giving rise to despair and fear because the heart is devoid of hope. All these things are consequences mainly of pride, and come upon the person who has been led astray into believing in himself; these are all also the medicines for his healing, to make him sober up and humble himself and vomit out the bile of this devastating perversion.

Just as in matters of grace there are means of assistance which augment our progress both in time and in quantity, so also on the side of error there are factors which contribute to its fluctuation. On the side of grace, when by the grace of Christ someone treads the strait and narrow way (Mt. 7:14) of the commandments according to the measure of his understanding and accompanied by humility and compassion in the service of love, he increases the aid and illumination given by grace.

Something comparable happens on the side of deception. If impatience and grumbling are added to it, one’s cross becomes twice as heavy, if not more. Faintheartedness and lack of hope are the most excruciating horrors of the unseen warfare, and are reserved for hard and unhumbled characters as the harshest lesson, which is a taste of hell itself and of punishment, a palpable sign of desertion and dereliction. Here it takes the prayers of saints and the intervention of a miracle for the heart to be softened. Many prayers and tears are needed for this sick soul to be reunited with grace and to be healed: otherwise it is inevitable that error will conquer, and that way lies madness and destruction.

O blessed humility and gratitude! Who is wise and will keep thy ways and understand thy statutes, that he may win thee totally and have thee as his intimate companion: that thou mayest go before him and follow him in all his ways, until thou presentest him to thy Master and King, who has taken thee as His delight and sharer of His throne and has revealed thee to us! For he says, ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart’ (and not just in appearance) ‘and you will find rest for your souls’! (Mt. 11:29).

It was not our intention to repeat so many problems and explanations that are familiar to us from the Fathers; we were carried away by our train of thought, since almost unintentionally we found ourselves amidst the whirlwinds of trials to which we so often fall victim through our many deficiencies and lapses in attention.

The ever-memorable Elder [Joseph] never stopped explaining to us at every stage of our life, in his own winsome way, the aim and purpose of these misfortunes that befall us. We understood the movement and functioning of these misfortunes constantly within the framework of the spiritual law which regulated everything in our lives in detail. Indeed, how much wisdom is concealed here for those who have understanding in the science of the spiritual life, when they chart their course over this ocean of life using nothing but this lodestone of the spiritual law, ‘the law of the spirit of life’ (Rom. 8:2). 
A section taken from “Elder Joseph the Hesychast: Struggles, Experiences, Teachings,” by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi 

Monday, May 13, 2019

You are mad; you are not like us. ( St. Anthony the Great )

A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, 
"You are mad; you are not like us." 

St. Anthony the Great

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Night of Entertainment With St. Paisios

One time, when I was at the Cell of the Honorable Cross, I had a very beautiful vigil. 
There gathered in the night many demons on the ceiling. In the beginning they hit with heavy loud noises, and then continue as if they were rolling large tree logs. 
I would make the sign of the cross on the ceiling while chanting "Your Cross we worship, Master...." When I finished, the logs would start again. "Now," I said, "we will do two dances. 
One you will do with the logs above and the other I will do below." 
When I would begin, they would stop. First I would chant "Your Cross we worship", and the next time I would chant "Lord, Your Cross you have given us as a weapon against the devil...." 
I had a most pleasant night with psalmody, and, when I would stop for a bit, they would continue the entertainment.

St. Paisios the Athonite

Friday, May 3, 2019

Never has there been such an age of false teachers . . .( Fr. Seraphim Rose )

“Never has there been such an age of false teachers as this pitiful twentieth century, so rich in material gadgets and so poor in mind and soul. Every conceivable opinion, even the most absurd, even those hitherto rejected by the universal consent of all civilized peoples — now has its platform and its own ‘teacher.’ A few of these teachers come with demonstration or promise of ‘spiritual power’ and false miracles, as do some occultists and ‘charismatics’; but most of the contemporary teachers offer no more than a weak concoction of undigested ideas which they receive ‘out of the air,’ as it were, or from some modern self-appointed ‘wise man’ (Or woman) who knows more than all the ancients merely by living in our ‘enlightened’ modern times. As a result, philosophy has a thousand schools, and ‘Christianity’ a thousand sects. Where is the truth to be found in all this, if indeed it is to found at all in our most misguided times?

In only one place is there to be found the fount of true teaching, coming from God Himself, not diminished over the centuries but ever fresh, being one and the same in all those who truly teach it, leading those who follow it to eternal salvation. This place is the Orthodox Church of Christ, the fount is the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, and the true teachers of the Divine doctrine that issues from this fount are the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church.”
 Fr. Seraphim Rose