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Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let then pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.

James 5:13-16

Holy Wednesday and Thursday

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Thy bridal chamber I behold, adorned O my Savior. But I have no wedding garment that I may enter. Make radiant the vesture of my soul O Giver of Light and save me.  

 

 

  

Holy Wednesday 

 

The primary theme of Holy Wednesday is our human need for the healing and forgiveness that comes into our lives when we establish a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded that the way to this relationship is to be found, above all else, through the life of prayer. In the Sacrament of Holy Unction, the faithful are anointed and thus, healed both physically and spiritually. They are also reconciled to God and one another so that they might receive the gift of the Holy Eucharist instituted by Christ at the Last Supper.

Holy Wednesday Matins: The Service of the Bridegroom

Beginning on the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing through the evening of Holy Tuesday, the Orthodox Church observes a special service known as the Service of the Bridgegroom. The name of the service is from the figure of the Bridegroom in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13.

 

Requirements: 126 min.

Holy Wednesday Unction Service  

On the afternoon or evening of Great and Holy Wednesday, the Sacrament of Holy Unction is offered for the healing of soul and body and for forgiveness of sins. The body is anointed with oil, and the grace of God, which heals infirmities of soul and body, is called down upon each person.  

Requirements: 318 min.

  

Holy Thursday

The Icon: The Last Supper – Christ: The central figure, St. John the Beloved (Evangelist, Theologian): The figure seated to the right of Christ. Judas Iscariot the Betrayer: He is depicted leaning over the table and dipping into the dish (Matthew 26:20-25).

Holy Thursday  

 
 
  

Come, O faithful, let us enjoy the Master’s hospitality: the banquet of immortality, in the upper chamber with uplifted minds. Let us receive the exalted words of the Word whom we magnify.

Holy Thursday Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great  

On Thursday of Holy Week four events are commemorated: the washing of the disciples’ feet, the institution of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas.  

   

Requirements: 161 min.

Holy Friday Matins  

On Great and Holy Friday the Orthodox Church commemorates the death of Christ on the Cross. This is the culmination of the observance of His Passion by which our Lord suffered and died for our sins. This commemoration begins on Thursday evening with the Matins of Holy Friday and concludes with a Vespers on Friday afternoon that observes the unnailing of Christ from the Cross and the placement of His body in the tomb.  

Requirements: 223 min

  

They have stripped me of My garments

   

Today is hung upon the (wood) Cross 

He, who hanged the earth upon the waters.
A crown of thorns is put upon Him,
who is King of the angels.
A fake crimson robe surrounds Him
who surrounds the sky with clouds.
A slap on the face suffers He,
who freed Adam in Jordan.
 

With nails was He detained,
the Bridegroom of the Church.
With a spear was He pierced,
the Son of the Virgin.
We venerate Your Passion, o Christ;
We venerate Your Passion, o Christ;
We venerate Your Passion, o Christ;
Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.
    

 

  

  

 

Holy Sepulcher, Jerusalem  

  

   

  

   

 

 

 

 

 

Palm Sunday and Holy Week Processions, Jerusalem

 

“Behold, the Bridegroom coming at

midnight, and blessed is the servant whom He

shall find watching, but unworthy is the

servant whom He shall find heedless. Beware,

therefore, O my soul, do not be weighted

down with sleep, lest you be given up to

death, and be shut out of the Kingdom. But

rouse yourself crying: “Holy, Holy, Holy art

Thou, O God! Through the Theotokos, have

mercy on us.”

 

The theme of watchfulness, which is so fundamental to true Orthodox belief, is forcefully presented in the scriptures:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. {2} And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. {3} They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: {4} But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. {5} While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. {6} And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. {7} Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. {8} And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. {9} But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. {10} And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. {11} Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. {12} But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. {13} Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh. (Mat 25:1-13) . The present hymn basically summarizes and emphasizes the above parable. This hymn, and it’s theme, is so important for Christians that the church also sings it every day in it’s daily Midnight Office.

Bridegroom Matins

(Arabic)

 Romanian

  

“Behold, I am coming soon”(Revelation 22:7).

(written by St Nikolai Velimirovic)

The unfaithful and the slayers of the spirit will say, “Nearly two thousand years ago He promised that He will come and He has not come yet!” This is how they, who ridiculed Him, will lament in eternal torment.

But we who are prepared for happiness in His Kingdom know that He will come in power and glory just as He promised. We know that He has already come countless times and showed Himself to His faithful ones. Did He not come to John the Divine [the one who saw God] to whom He spoke these words, “Behold, I am coming soon?” John saw Him in power and glory and felt His hand on him when he was  frightened and fell before His feet as dead, “And He touched me with His right hand” (Revelation 1:17).

 Greek

Greek, Arabic and Romanian

Did He not come to Saul when in the beginning he breathed hatred against the Christians and when on the road to Damascus fell on the ground, seeing the Lord and hearing His voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts of the Apostles 9:4). And again, did He not enter into the heart of the Apostle Paul when he recognized that “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me!” (Galatians 2:20). Did He not come to the countless martyrs, both male and female, who suffered for His Name, to encourage them, to heal them, and to have mercy on them? Did He not come to Anthony the Great, Theodore Stratelates, St. Haralambos, St. Marina, St. Sylvester and many, many more? What are we saying? Did He not return from the Kingdom of Death on the third day and appeared before the apostles? Did He not come to the aid of the Church many, many times and, as out of the dead, resurrected it whenever her enemies rejoiced, thinking that they had given His Church over to death forever? Did He not appear in His power in the Church at the time of Nero as well as at the time of Constantine; at the time of Julian, as well as at the time of Justinian; at the time of Arab tyranny, as well as at the time of the Turkish and Mongolian oppression over Christians?

O, my faithful brethren, do not submit to deception. He came countless times and comes even today.

Russian

He comes to every soul to whom He can, regardless of impurity. However, we are all waiting for Him to come for the last time in power and glory. We know that His coming is certain. O Lord Most Gracious, before You come, make us worthy to recognize Your face and to be ashamed of our faces, darkened by sin.

  Palm Sunday Sermon
 

 

Holy Monday Matins: The Service of the Bridegroom

Beginning on the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing through the evening of Holy Tuesday, the Orthodox Church observes a special service known as the Service of the Bridgegroom. The name of the service is from the figure of the Bridegroom in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13.

 

Requirements: 107 min.

Holy Tuesday Matins: The Service of the Bridegroom

Beginning on the evening of Palm Sunday and continuing through the evening of Holy Tuesday, the Orthodox Church observes a special service known as the Service of the Bridgegroom. The name of the service is from the figure of the Bridegroom in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13.

Requirements: 102 min.

Holy Tuesday Sermon by Fr. Michael (video)

 

 

The rising of Lazarus from the death is celebrated in the Orthodox Church the day before Palm Sunday. From the Holy Gospels we learn that Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary and lived in Bethany. Bethany is known to the Arab world as “al-Azariyya” and it is an old city situated in the Holy Land south-east of Mount Olives.

In the days that preceded our Lord’ Passion, Jesus was traveling in the far desert to a place named Perea. Here, He got the news that Lazarus was seriously ill and Jesus was expected to heal him. The Gospels do not mention Lazarus illness, however this was undoubtedly a disease with no cure leading to death. Jesus did not go to see Lazarus until two days after hearing the news. He got to Bethany along with His disciples, only on the fourth day of Lazarus’s death.

Upon entering the village He is greeted by Martha with these words: “Lord, if you were here earlier, my brother had not died”. But Jesus replied: “I am the resurrection and the life!“, meaning He is the One who brought us all from nothingness into existence and the One who has power to overcome death.

At His question “Where did you buried him?” they answered: “Lord, come and see”.

In the Triodiom, it is said: “As a mortal man you had asked oh Lord, but as God, You rose from the death.”

According to the Holy Gospels, Christ would cry in front of Lazarus tomb. In this, He shed tears for all fallen humanity, not only for Lazarus.

Before entering the tomb, He prayed to the Father than He called Lazarus out.

Lazarus came out of the grave as he had been buried: clothed in shroud and with his face covered in veil.

 

Lazarus is a general symbol

 

“According to an ancient tradition, it is said that Lazarus was thirty years old when the Lord raised him; then he lived another thirty years on Cyprus and there reposed in the Lord. It is furthermore related that after he was raised from the dead, he never laughed till the end of his life, but that once only, when he saw someone stealing a clay vessel, he smiled and said, “Clay stealing clay.” His grave is situated in the city of Kition, having the inscription: “Lazarus the four days dead and friend of Christ.” In 890 his sacred relics were transferred to Constantinople by Emperor Leo the Wise, at which time undoubtedly the Emperor composed his stichera for Vespers, “Wishing to behold the tomb of Lazarus . . .” (from the Synaxarium)

The crying of Christ calling Lazarus from the grave, is seen as a symbol of calling all of us from death before standing the final judgement. It should be noted that Lazarus’ victory over death was not final, been only a reification of his body. Only through Christ, death was to be fully defeated.

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

Lazarus – Bishop of Cyprus

After the martyrdom of Archdeacon Stephen, Lazarus and his sisters went to the island of Cyprus because he was also in danger to be killed. Later, when Paul and Barnabas, on their first missionary journey arrived in Cyprus, they had met Lazarus and consecrated him as the Bishop of Cyprus. The Holy tradition tell us that after Christ resurrection, Lazarus lived for 30 more years, then he died.

He was buried in the town of Larnaka, Cyprus. Over his tomb a church was built. Around 890, Emperor Leo the Wise move Lazarus relics to Constantinople. In exchange for the holy relics, the emperor offered money and craftsmen to build the church in Larnaka, dedicated to St. Lazarus, which had survived until today.

In 1204, when the Crusaders conquered Constantinople, the relics were moved initially to Marseille, than to many other places until they become lost for many years. But in 1972, during the restoration of the church of Saint Lazarus from Larnaka, underneath the altar a small marble coffin was discovered carrying a piece of the precious relics of St Lazarus and the inscription: “Lazarus risen on the fourth day, and friend of Christ”.

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

We are called to identify ourselves with Lazarus

The last week of Lent invites us to become witnesses of what happened with Lazarus back then and to identify ourselves with him.

We ought to detach ourselves during this time of lent from everything related to the flesh…  to become like Lazarus – friends of Christ, in order to rise with Him. With our soul sicken, as Lazarus was in his mortal body, we find ourselves laying in the tomb of sloth and indifference, covered by the stone of despair:

“Roll oh Saviour, the stone of sloth from my soul and rise me from the indifference of my grave so I may glorify You”.

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

The Tomb of Lazarus from Bethany

Bethany is known to the Arab world as “al-Azariyya” been situated in the Holy Land in a rocky area South-East of Mount of Olives, Jerusalem. Its population consists of Christian and Muslim inhabitants.

Bethany is the town where Lazarus, Mary and Martha had lived, and the place where several events from the New Testament took place. Our Lord himself had passed several times through Bethany.

 Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar          Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

 

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

Near the tomb where Lazarus were erected on the 4th day from death, a Franciscan church  was built over the ruins of some ancient settlements.

Bethany has been certified historically since the Roman civilization. In the immediate vicinity, traces of a much older settlement were found, dated to the Iron Age. It is believed that this was the biblical city “Ananias” thus in the  New Testament it is mentioned as “Bethany” – (Beth Ananias = Bethany).

 Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar          Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

The first mentioning  of this biblical city is found in the Book of Nehemiah and II book of Esdras (OT)

Before the IVth century,  no traces of any church in Bethany could be found, although the history of Eusebius and Bordeaux Pilgrim (333) mentions that the tomb of Lazarus was placed in a vault or crypt.

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

Around 490, Blessed Jerome writes about a place mentioned in Egeria’ diary, which is in fact the guest house of Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus. According to Jerome, it is believed that during that period, pilgrims went to the house of Lazarus, not to his grave..

That structure known as “Lazarium” was destroyed by an earthquake at the time, being replaced by the Church of St. Lazarus in the VI-th century. This church is mentioned by Theodosius before the year 518 and by Arculf around 680. The church had survived until the Crusades.

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

In 1143, during the Crusades, King Fulk and Queen Melisande had received the town of Bethany from the Patriarch of the „Holy Sepulcher”, in trade for an area near Hebron.

Queen Melisande had an important role in the development of this historic place, been preoccupied much with prayer. She built a Benedictine monastery dedicated to Mary and Martha, repaired and extended the Old Church of St. Lazarus, which she dedicated to the sisters of Lazarus – Mary and Martha. The Monastery of the Holy Mary and Martha became soon one of the richest monasteries in Jerusalem. The Queen’ sister, Jovetta, was elected abbess of this monastery at the age of only 24.

With the collapse of Crusader’ Kingdom, in 1187, nuns went into exile. The new church of St Lazarus built above the tomb was destroyed, and only the tomb remained

Betania - Mormantul lui Lazar

It is also believed that the town was deserted by inhabitants. But starting with 1347, a pilgrim confirmed the presence of few Greek monks in the tomb chapel –  the vault left over the tomb of Lazarus.

In 1384, this place was transformed into a mosque, and for a time, the entry of Christians inside the tomb of Lazarus was made very difficult.

Between 1952-1955 a modern Franciscan church dedicated to St. Lazarus was built over the top of the Byzantine church and the church dedicated to Mary and Martha. In 1965 a Greek church was also built near the tomb St. Lazarus.

After several negotiations, the Franciscans were finally permitted to dig a new entrance to the tomb, on its northern side. Once completed the new entrance, the tomb’s original entrance was blocked from the mosque.

Originally, the grave of St Lazarus was dug directly into the rock, but no one knows exactly its initial shape. The original entrance to Lazarus’ tomb can be seen in the western wall of the tomb’s antechamber.

Above, the hill a modern Greek Church is laying over one of the walls of the Crusader church standing high above the tomb. The ruins found near this church are under the care of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. They were identified with the house of Simon the leper or the House of Lazarus.

St Lazarus church from Cyprus – tradition and history

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

Saint Lazarus Church in Larnaka – Cyprus was built in the ninth century over the tomb of St. Lazarus – who Christ resurrected from the dead (on the 4th day) in the town of Bethany. Rebuilt in the eighteenth century, the church in Larnaka is one of the most important and impressive building of the city.

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

According to the orthodox tradition, after Lazarus was raised from the dead, he came to Cyprus, where, later, he was to be elected bishop of Kition by St. Paul and Barnabas. Lazarus had lived in Larnaka for 30 more years, then he died and was buried inside this church

The tomb of Lazarus in Larnaka is different from the tomb in Bethany where Christ came to work the miracle. The tomb from Bethany was almost forgotten during the Arab attacks. His holy relics were rediscovered in 890 and transported to Constantinople by Emperor Leo the VI th , in 901.

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

The church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaka – Cyprus was built, as mentioned above, in the ninth century, above the tomb of Bishop Lazar. His tomb was located in a network of catacombs; other sarcophagi were also found in these catacombs.

 Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca          Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

The ninth century church was fully renovated in the XVII-th century, when the iconostasis was also changed, becoming a wonderful example of the Baroque art. But the impressive iconostasis, belonging to the eighteenth century, was badly damaged by fire in 1970.

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

Saturday of Lazarus – the great procession in Larnaka

The church had preserved two very beautiful icons of the Saint Lazarus: one dating from 1659 made in silver depicting his rising from the death, and another icon also of the risen Lazarus where those participating in the event had to cover their nose, due to heavy stink coming from Lazarus’ tomb before his rising.

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

This last icon is carried out in procession in the presence of the Bishop of Kition, eight days before Easter. On this day, the streets of Larnaka are full of believers.

 Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca          Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

The church’crypt (underneath the church), also preserves the marbles sarcophagus of Saint Lazarus

Biserica Sfantul Lazar din Larnaca

Through the prayers of St. Lazarus, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us sinners, Amin!

 

Sermon on the Annunciation

by St. Gregory the Wonderworker

(an excerpt)

Our father among the saints, Gregory the Wonderworker, also known as Gregory Thaumaturgus or Gregory of Neocaesarea,  was a Christian bishop of the 3rd century. The Theotokos and Apostle John appeared to St. Gregory in a dream, and taught him about the Holy Trinity.  He was a zealous evangelist. When Gregory began his episcopacy with only seventeen Christians, but at his death there remained only seventeen pagans in all of Caesarea

When the fulness of the times came for His glorious appearing, He sent beforehand the archangel Gabriel to bear the glad tidings to the Virgin Mary. And he came down from the ineffable powers above to the holy Virgin, and addressed her first of all with the salutation,

“Hail, thou that art highly favoured.”

And when this word,

“Hail, thou that art highly favoured,”

reached her, in the very moment of her hearing it, the Holy Spirit entered into the undefiled temple of the Virgin, and her mind and her members were sanctified together. And nature stood opposite, and natural intercourse at a distance, beholding with amazement the Lord of nature, in a manner contrary to nature, or rather above nature, doing a miraculous work in the body; and by the very weapons by which the devil strove against us, Christ also saved us, taking to Himself our passible body in order that He might impart the greater grace to the being who was deficient in it. And

“where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

And appropriately was grace sent to the holy Virgin.

For this word also is contained in the oracle of the evangelic history:

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house and lineage of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary; “

and so forth. And this was the first month to the holy Virgin. Even as Scripture says in the book of the law:

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month among the months of the year to you.”

“Keep ye the feast of the holy passover to the Lord in all your generations.”

it was also the sixth month to Zacharias. And rightly, then, did the holy Virgin prove to be of the family of David, and she had her home in Bethlehem, and was betrothed rightfully to Joseph, in accordance with the laws of relationship. And her espoused husband was her guardian, and possessor also of the untarnished incorruption which was hers. And the name given to the holy Virgin was one that became her exceedingly.

For she was called Mary, and that, by interpretation, means illumination. And what shines more brightly that the light of virginity? For this reason also the virtues are called virgins by those who strive rightly to get at their true nature. But if it is so great a blessing to have a virgin heart, how great a boon will it be to have the flesh that cherishes virginity along with the soul!

Thus the holy Virgin, while still in the flesh, maintained the incorruptible life, and received in faith the things which were announced by the archangel. And thereafter she journeyed diligently to her relation Elisabeth in the hill-country.

“And she entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth,”

in imitation of the angel.

“And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leapt with joy in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Thus the voice of Mary wrought with power, and filled Elisabeth with the Holy Spirit. And by her tongue, as from an ever-flowing fountain, she sent forth a stream of gracious gifts in the way of prophecy to her relation; and while the feet of her child were bound in the womb, she prepared to dance and leap. And that was the sign of a marvellous jubilation. For wherever she was who was highly favoured, there she filled all things with joy.

“And Elisabeth spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Blessed art thou among women.”

For thou hast become to women the beginning of the new creation. Thou hast given to us boldness of access into paradise, and thou hast put to flight our ancient woe. For after thee the race of woman shall no more be made the subject of reproach. No more do the successors of Eve fear the ancient curse, or the pangs of childbirth.

For Christ, the Redeemer of our race, the Saviour of all nature, the spiritual Adam who has healed the hurt of the creature of earth, cometh forth from thy holy womb.

“Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

For He who bears all blessings for us is manifested as thy fruit. This we read in the clear words of her who was barren; but yet more clearly did the holy Virgin herself express this again when she presented to God the song replete with thanksgiving, and acceptance, and divine knowledge; announcing ancient things together with what was new; proclaiming along with things which were of old, things also which belong to the consummation of the ages; and summing up in a short discourse the mysteries of Christ.

“And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour,”

and so forth.

“He hath holpen His servant Israel in remembrance of His mercy, and of the covenant which He established with Abraham and with his seed for ever.”

Thou seest how the holy Virgin has surpassed even the perfection of the patriarchs, and how she confirms the covenant which was made with Abraham by God, when He said,

“This is the covenant which I shall establish between me and thee.”

Wherefore He has come and confirmed the covenant with Abraham, having received mystically in Himself the sign of circumcision, and having proved Himself the fulfilment of the law and the prophets.

This song of prophecy, therefore, did the holy mother of God render to God, saying,

“My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour: for He that is mighty hath done to me great things, and holy is His name.”

For having made me the mother of God, He has also preserved me a virgin; and by my womb the fulness of all generations is headed up together for sanctification.

For He hath blessed every age, both men and women, both young men and youths, and old men.

“He hath made strength with His arm,”

on our behalf, against death and against the devil, having torn the handwriting of our sins.

“He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts; “

yea, He hath scattered the devil himself, and all the demons that serve under him. For he was overweeningly haughty in his heart, seeing that he dared to say,

“I will set my throne above the clouds, and I will be like the Most High.”

And now, how He scattered him the prophet has indicated in what follows, where he says,

“Yet now thou shalt be brought down to hell,”

and all thy hosts with thee. For He has overthrown everywhere his altars and the worship of vain gods, and He has prepared for Himself a peculiar people out of the heathen nations.

“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.”

In these terms is intimated in brief the extrusion of the Jews and the admission of the Gentiles. For the elders of the Jews and the scribes in the law, and those who were richly privileged with other prerogatives, because they used their riches ill and their power lawlessly, were cast down by Him from every seat, whether of prophecy or of priesthood, whether of legislature or of doctrine, and were stripped of all their ancestral wealth, and of their sacrifices and multitudinous festivals, and of all the honourable privileges of the kingdom. Spoiled of all these boons, as naked fugitives they were cast out into captivity.

And in their stead the humble were exalted, namely, the Gentile peoples who hungered after righteousness. For, discovering their own lowliness, and the hunger that pressed upon them for the knowledge of God, they pleaded for the divine word, though it were but for crumbs of the same, like the woman of Canaan;and for this reason they were filled with the riches of the divine mysteries. For the Christ who was born of the Virgin, and who is our God, has given over the whole inheritance of divine blessings to the Gentiles.

“He hath helped His servant Israel.”

Not any Israel in general, indeed, but His servant, who in very deed maintains the true nobility of Israel. And on this account also did the mother of God call Him servant (Son) and heir. For when He had found the same labouring painfully in the letter and the law, He called him by grace. It is such an Israel, therefore, that He called and hath holpen in remembrance of His mercy.

“As He spake to our fathers, I to Abraham and to his seed for ever.”

In these few words is comprehended the whole mystery of the economy. For, with the purpose of saving the race of men, and fulfilling the covenant that was made with our fathers, Christ has once

“bowed the heavens and come down.”

And thus He shows Himself to us as we are capable of receiving Him, in order that we might have power to see Him, and handle Him, and hear Him when the speaketh. And on this account did God the Word deem it meet to take to Himself the flesh and the perfect humanity by a woman, the holy Virgin; and He was born a man, in order that He might discharge our debt, and fulfil even in Himself the ordinances of the covenant made with Abraham, in its rite of circumcision, and all the other legal appointments connected with it.

And after she had spoken these words the holy Virgin went to Nazareth; and from that a decree of Caesar led her to come again to Bethlehem; and so, as proceeding herself from the royal house, she was brought to the royal house of David along with Joseph her espoused husband. And there ensued there the mystery which transcends all wonders,-the Virgin brought forth and bore in her hand Him who bears the whole creation by His word.

“And there was no room for them in the inn.”

He found no room who founded the whole earth by His word.

She nourished with her milk Him who imparts sustenance and life to everything that hath breath.

She wrapped Him in swaddling-clothes who binds the whole creation fast with His word. She laid Him in a manger who rides seated upon the cherubim.

A light from heaven shone round about Him who lighteneth the whole creation.

The hosts of heaven attended Him with their doxologies who is glorified in heaven from before all ages. A star with its torch guided them who had come from the distant parts of earth toward Him who is the true Orient.

From the East came those who brought gifts to Him who for our sakes became poor.

And the holy mother of God kept these words, and pondered them in her heart, like one who was the receptacle of all the mysteries.

Thy praise, O most holy Virgin, surpasses all laudation, by reason of the God who received the flesh and was born man of thee.

To thee every creature, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, offers the meet offering of honour. For thou hast been indeed set forth as the true cherubic throne.

Thou shinest as the very brightness of light in the high places of the kingdoms of intelligence; where the Father, who is without beginning, and whose power thou hadst overshadowing thee, is glorified; where also the Son is worshipped, whom thou didst bear according to the flesh; and where the Holy Spirit is praised, who effected in thy womb the generation of the mighty King.

Through thee, O thou that art highly favoured, is the holy and consubstantial Trinity known in the world.

Together with thyself, deem us also worthy to be made partakers of thy perfect grace in Jesus Christ our Lord: with whom, and with the Holy Spirit, be glory to the Father, now and ever, and unto the ages of the ages. Amen.

(Taken from the Preachers Institute website)

 

Please also see:

 The Orthodox Veneration of The Mother of God; Zeal Not According to Knowledge (Romans 10:2); Attempts of Iconoclasts to Lessen The Glory of the Queen of Heaven, They Are Put to Shame; Attempts of Jews and Heretics to Dishonor The Ever-Virginity of Mary; The First Enemies of the Veneration of The Mother of God; etc

(An excellent overview of the “The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God” written by Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco, a saint of the Orthodox Church with complete holy relics laying in the Orthodox Cathedral of San Francisco, CA)

The Iconography of Palm Sunday:

the Entrance of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ  in Jerusalem

HYMN OF PRAISE to SAINT MARY THE EGYPTIAN

  

Fr. Evans’ Sermon on the 5th Sunday of Great Lent (Mp3)_2007

Penitent wonderful, self-tormentor,

Mary hid herself from the face of men.

Oh yes, sinful me,

By passion, darkened.

Passions are beasts which eat at our heart,

In us as serpents, secretly they weave a nest.

Oh yes, sinful me,

By passion consumed!

In order to save sinners, You suffered O Christ,

Now, do not loathe impure me!

Hearken to the cry of Mary,

Of all, the most-sinful!

The Lord showed compassion, Mary He healed,

Her darkened soul, He whitened as snow.

Thanks be to You, O All-Good One,

Oh Lord, most dear!

An impure vessel You cleansed and,

With gold you gilded it,

Filled it to overflowing with Your grace –

That is true mercy,

To you O God, be glory!

And Mary became radiant with the Spirit

As an angel of God, by strength girded,

By Your power, O Christ

Mercy, Most pure!

What smells so in the awesome wilderness,

As beautiful incense in a chest of the temple?

That, Mary breathes –

With holiness, she exudes!

 

 REFLECTION

Why is it that much is said and written about the sufferings of holy men and holy women? Because the saints, alone, are considered victors. Can anyone be a victor without conflict, pain and suffering? In ordinary earthly combat, no one can be considered victorious nor heroic who has not been in combat tortured much or suffered greatly. The more so in spiritual combat where the truth is known and where self-boasting not only does not help at all but, indeed, hinders it. He who does not engage in combat for the sake of Christ, either with the world, with the devil or with one’s self, how can he be counted among the soldiers of Christ? How, then, can it be with Christ’s co-victors? St. Mary spoke about her savage spiritual combat to the Elder Zosimus: “For the first seventeen years in this wilderness I struggled with my deranged sexual desires as though with fierce beasts. I desired to eat meat and fish which I had in abundance in Egypt. I also desired to drink wine and here, I did not have even water to drink. I desired to hear lustful songs. I cried and beat my breasts. I prayed to the All-Pure Mother of God to banish such thoughts from me. When I had sufficiently cried and beat my breasts, it was then that I saw a light encompassing me on all sides and a certain miraculous peace filled me.”

  

About the fulfillment of the great prophecy “Like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).

Throughout the many centuries of time the discerning Prophet Isaiah foresaw the awesome sacrifice on Golgotha. From afar he saw the Lord Jesus Christ led to the slaughter as a lamb is led to the slaughter. A lamb permits itself to be led to the laughter as it is led to the pasture: defenseless, without fear and without malice. Thus, Our Lord Christ was led to the slaughter without defense, without fear and without malice. Neither does He say: “Men, do not do this!” Neither does He question: “Why are you doing this to Me?” Neither does He condemn anyone. Neither does He protest. Neither does He become angry.

Neither does He think evilly of His judges. When blood poured out over Him from the thorny wreath, He was silent. When His face was soiled from being spat upon, He was silent. When His Cross became heavy along the way, He endured. When His pain became unbearable on the Cross, He did not complain to men but to the Father. When He breathed His last, He directed His gaze and sigh toward heaven and not toward earth. For the source of His strength is heaven and not earth. The source of His consolation is in God and not in men. His true homeland is the Heavenly Kingdom and not the earthly kingdom.

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (St. John 1:29). This was the first cry of St. John the Baptist when he saw the Lord. And, behold, now on Golgotha that prophecy was fulfilled.

Behold, under the weight of the sins of the entire world, the Lamb of God lay slaughtered and lifeless.

O brethren, this is a costly sacrifice even for our sins. The blood of this sinless and meek Lamb was destined for all times and all generations, from the first to the last person on earth. Christ also felt the pains on the Cross for our sins even those of the present day. He also wept in the Garden of Gethsemane for our wickedness, our weakness and our sinfulness. He also destined His blood for us.

Brethren let us not then despise this indescribable costly price by which we have been redeemed.

Because of these sacrifices of Christ we, indeed, have some worth as people. Without these sacrifices, or if we disavow these sacrifices, our worth, by itself alone, is equal to nothing. It is equal to smoke without a flame or a cloud without light.

O Lord, unequaled in mercy, have mercy on us also!

Written by St. Nikolaj Velimirovic in “The Prolog from Ohrid”

 

(An excerpt for the book “The Agony of the Church” written while been a profesor at  ST SAVVA’S COLLEGE, BELGRADE, 1917)

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If the official churches have had no other merit but that they have preserved Christ as the treasury of the world, yet they are justified thereby. Even if they have solely repeated through all the past centuries “Lord! Lord!” still they stand above the secular world. For they know at least who the Lord is, whereas the world does not know. Churches may disappear, but The Church never will. For not churches are the work of Christ, but the Church. Moreover, if the Church disappears, as an institution, the essence of the Church cannot disappear. It is like rivers, sea and water: when rivers disappear into the sea, the sea remains, and if the sea disappears into steam, water still remains. If Christ ever meant to form the Church as an institution He meant to form it not as the end but as the means, like a boat to bring its inmates safely over the stormy ocean of life into the quiet harbour of His Kingdom. Like the body in a bath, so the soul disrobes in the Church to wash. But as soon as we get out, we clothe our soul in order to conceal it from the curious eye. Is it not illogical that we dare to show our imperfections to the Most Perfect, while we are ashamed to show them to those who are just as imperfect, ugly and unclean as ourselves? The Church, like a bath, reveals most uncleanness. 

The initial and most obvious idea of the Church is collectiveness of sin and salvation. To pray alone and for one’s self is like eating alone without regard to other people’s hunger.

When the sun sees a man of science, wealth or politics, kneeling at prayer with the poor and humble, it goes smiling to its rest. Full of beauty and wonders are all the Christian churches, but not because of their pretended perfections: they are beautiful and wonderful because of Him whose shadow they are. You are a Christian? Then do not be afraid to enter any Christian church with prayerful respect. All the Churches have sworn allegiance to the same Sovereign. How can you respect a cottage, in which once abided His Majesty King Alfred, or Charles, while you would not go into a building dedicated to His Majesty the Invisible King of kings?

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The real value of any Christian community is not to be found in its own prosperity but in its care for the prosperity of other Christian communities. So, for example, the value of the Protestants is to be found in their loving care for the Roman Catholics, and vice versa.

Taking the above standard, we find that all the Christian communities are almost quite valueless as to the spirit, i.e. as to their unusual loving care. Their actual value is more physical than spiritual, being as they are limited to the care for themselves. Exceptions are as refreshing as an oasis in the desert. Church and State are like fire and water. How to connect them? For if connected, fire always dies down under water.

There are three ages in the history of the Church: the Golden Age, when the Church was opposed to political governments; the Iron Age, when she was politically directing Europe’s kingdoms; and the Stone Age, when she has been subdued to the service of political governments. What a humiliation for the present generation to live in the Stone Age of Christianity!

Trying to unite Church and State we are trying to unite what God separated from the beginning of our era. To separate the Church from the State does not mean, as many think, to separate soul from body; it means to separate two quite opposed spirits unakin and hostile to each other, like Cross and Capitol. The worm of comfort and human inertia has reconciled Christianity with secular, pagan governments, and so paralysed the most divine movement in human history. Go to the bottom of all those clever advocacies for unity of Church and State, and you will meet, as their primus motor, the worm of comfort and human inertia.

All Churches and Christian institutions of the present time, however wonderful they may be, are only a dim prophecy of the coming Christian worship in truth and spirit. Through them we look now to the future as through a glass. Christianity is neither monarchical nor republican. It does not care about institutions but about the spirit living in them. That institution is the best which is fullest of the Christian spirit. From this point of view, an autocracy may be better than a republic, and vice versa.

The true Christianity has been hidden from us as iron and coal were hidden from the men of the Stone Age. They walked over iron and coal but they used stone and wood only. So we are walking over and around Christ, still using in our daily life the pagan gods of old.

If there is to be a new geological epoch, with a new type of man, it will be the Christian epoch. All the existing types have been made by revolutions and influences of earth and water, or of air and fire. Now only the Christian revolution–I mean literally and not allegorically–can produce a higher type of the human animal. My friend, you are dissatisfied with the existing Churches, and you are anxious to form a new church, or sect, or some kind of religious organisation! How childish of you! The existing Churches are the most wonderful vessels–some in gold, others in silver or pottery–made by thousands of years and generations. I know your dissatisfaction comes because of the emptiness of those vessels and not because of their ugliness. Well then, pour the divine wine into them and they will please you just as the vessels in Cana of Galilee pleased the thirsty people around the table. No one of those people, being thirsty, ever thought of making new vessels for the wine, but to get wine as soon as possible into the vessels. To pour wine into existing vessels, that is really the needed miracle, my dear grumbler!

People say: Read the Bible! Almost would I say: Do not touch it for five years–read other literature during this period–and then read it again, and you will see its real greatness, power and sweetness.

The Christ’s wounds have wrought more blessings in the world than the health of all the Roman Caears.

 The Eucharist does not mean a memory only but also a prophecy. The prophecy of it is, that the whole earth will become Christ’s body, Christ’s flesh and blood, so that whatever we eat or drink we eat and drink Him.

He ought to be our daily food. Regarding all our food through Christ it will not seem to be a prey from nature but rather nature’s sacrifice for us, reminding us of Christ’s sacrifice, and through it of our own calling to sacrifice.

You have to choose either to be proud or poor in spirit. The first will mean a noisy destruction, the second a quiet construction.

There exists no sublime and no mean thing in the whole world of which I could not find a representation in myself, and none in which I were wholly unrepresented.

The beauty, glory and greatness of a field of golden wheat consists of an association of innumerable blades of wheat, with their insignificant beauty, glory and greatness. If you have seen that, then do not repeat to me the old story of the beauty, glory and greatness of the human blade called Pythagoras, Caear or Napoleon.  

The wealthiest and most powerful people, that we are wont to admire and imitate, were most pitied by Christ. To-day, as always, the most difficult Christian mission is that among the rich.

Our real value we never reveal through the using of our rights but through our capacity for service and sacrifice.

Easier is it for a man to get his own rights than to lose his pride.

Sacrifice without murmuring makes of our stormy life a calm holy day. We fill all our days with the talk of the people who are loth to sacrifice and of those who dare to sacrifice. Disgust and admiration are two baths in which our hearts bathe from sunrise to sunset. By nothing is the disgust towards a man more excited than by hearing: “He is incapable of sacrifice.”

When this sentence is directed to ourselves, we feel as if we had lost the whole battle of life.

The value of metaphysical systems is more for the scientific than for the moral progress of mankind. Upon Hegel you could build a new science, but upon St Paul only could you build a new social life and a new world politics. Did you ever think that St Paul is the greatest prophet of a new and desirable statesmanship?

All the Empires founded upon rights have perished and must perish. The future belongs to the Empire of St Paul, an Empire founded upon loving service.

It is better in humbleness to belong to the worst of the Churches than proudly to separate one’s self from the best of the Churches.

Aristocratic origin is as inscrutable as the darkness of the past night.

A mighty aristocrat of to-day may be of the meanest soul-stuff, and the beggar at his door of the noblest. But respect both of them equally, knowing that both of them are of the same royal origin. The Most High names both of them His children. For the same reason respect asses and sheep and trees and stones.

The real crucifiers of Christ in our time are those who think Christ’s Gospel could not be taken as a base for world politics. Were not His last words to the disciples: go to all nations? The last and supreme expression of Christianity will be in the relations of nation to nation, as its starting expression has been the relations of man to man.

Inter-individualism has been the elementary school of Christianity.

Inter-nationalism ought to be its university. Christian ethics, i.e. cheerful service and sacrifice, is the noblest consequence of real belief in God. Never a shorter line can bind our planet with the centre of the Universe than the line going through Christ. It is the shortest way, as a straight line is the shortest distance between two geometrical points.

Slavery means obligatory service; freedom ought to mean willing service.

Only a man or a nation educated for willing service to their neighbours is a really free man or free nation. All other theories of freedom are illusions. Freedom asking for rights and not for willing service means an endless quarrel crowning with unhappiness all its champions. Neither Pericles’ republic nor Octavian’s monarchy were the States of happiness, but St Paul‘s pan-human state, with a single Magna Charta of willing service, will be a State of Universal Happiness.

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Every man is a battlefield of many unclean spirits, very bold in the absence of Christ and very shy in His Presence. O how many of these spirits that find an easy habitation in us would make even the swine to rage and run down the steep place–into the sea!

The conception that the mentality of Machiavelli and Metternich, Bismarck and Beaconsfield could be taken as a basis of politics, whereas Christ’s mentality could not, is the conception even of many theologians. Yet Christ survives all these politicians as an undying power, just because He is the fittest of all of them.

What an obscure philosophy it is which teaches that Moses and Mohamed had some thing to do with politics and Christ has not!

Carlyle and Emerson were over-anxious to recommend every great man as a leader of mankind more than Christ. It is the same as to say: men! Take candles and lamps to light your way in darkness, but be aware of the sun. How quite different are Dostoievsky and Tolstoi!

I looked at men in prayer and I thought: Behold, the fallen angels! I looked again at them in hateful quarrel and I thought: Behold, the risen demons!

Animals are cruel but not vulgar. Yet both in cruelty and vulgarity man is on record. If forced to chose one of two evils, we should prefer to look at cruelty rather than vulgarity.

All our to-days are spoiled by reminiscences about yesterday and sorrows about tomorrow. Thus we are disindividualising and emptying all our “to-days” and degrading them to a misty meeting-place of yesterday and tomorrow.

 From the physical point of view the greatest thing in this life is its mystery. From the moral point of view the greatest thing in man is the optimistic interpretation of that mystery. There is no reasonable optimism outside of Christianity.

 No man could be a tyrant unless he were a slave of some moral defects.

No nation could tyrannise over another nation unless it were tyrannised over itself by some illusions.

Nobody in the world is free but he who feels himself to be a prisoner of Christ. The greatest champion of freedom in human history called himself: “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ.”

(Taken from a Russian translation of the original Greek)

 Editor’s note: On a remote, narrow peninsula in the Aegean Sea lies the monastic republic of Mt. Athos, spiritual heart of the Orthodox Christian world. For centuries monks have lived and prayed here for the salvation of their souls and the world, and every devout Orthodox Christian male strives to make the pilgrimage to Mt. Athos at least once in his life. Elder Paissios (1924-1994) is considered by many to have been one of the Holy Mount’s greatest ascetics of the 20th Century. Over the course of his life the words of this humble Greek monk, who came to be honored by believers as an “holy elder” (geronta in Greek, starets in Russian), were recorded by the thousands who journeyed to seek his advice and prophecies. In the following quotes Paissios warns of the great cataclysms which await us in our Apocalyptic times. His counsel of spiritual preparedness and how to achieve it will be of use to all those who strive to do good while maintaining spiritual equilibrium in a world growing increasingly hostile to our salvation. Paissios seems to have foreseen everything: the ever more frequent and senseless wars and the growing totalitarianism of “Schengen Europe”, “Homeland Securitized” America and “Putinized” Russia, the downward slide of our modern, globalized world into licentiousness and madness, the approaching Last Judgement.

“There’s a war on today, a holy war…”

“If the Metropolitans are silent, then who will speak?”

that unsettles me is the reigning mood of tranquility. Something is in the works. We still haven’t understood properly either what’s going on, or the fact that we will die. I don’t know what will come of this. The situation is very complicated. The fate of the world depends on just a few people, but God is still putting on the brakes. We have to pray a lot, and with pain in our hearts, so that God will intervene: our times are very hard to understand. A lot of ash, rubbish, and indifference has accumulated, and a strong wind will be needed to blow it all away.

It’s frightening! The Tower of Babel is upon us! Divine intervention is needed: Great upheavals are happening. What a bedlam! The minds of whole nations are in confusion. But in spite of the ferment I feel a certain consolation inside, a certain confidence. God still dwells in a part of the Christians. God’s people, people of prayer, still remain, and God in his all-goodness still tolerates us and will put everything in order. Don’t be afraid! We’ve gone through many storms, and still haven’t perished. So should we be afraid of the storm which is now gathering? We’ll not perish this time either” 

God loves us. In Man there’s a hidden power which comes out when necessary. The difficult years will be few. Just a lot of thunder.

Don’t get upset in the least, for God is above everything. He rules everyone and will bring all to the defendant’s bench to answer for what they’ve done, according to which each will receive his just desserts from God. Those who’ve in some way helped the cause of good will be rewarded, and those who do evil will be punished. God will put everyone in their place in the end, but each of us will answer for what they did in these difficult years, both in prayer and in deeds.

Today they’re trying to destroy faith, and for the edifice of faith to fall they quietly pull out one stone, then another. But we’re all responsible for the destruction; not just those who destroy but we who see how faith is being undermined and make no effort to strengthen it. As a result the seducers are emboldened to create even greater difficulties for us, and their rage against the Church and the monastic life increases.

Today’s situation can be resisted only spiritually, not by worldly means. The storm will continue to rage a bit, will throw all the flotsam, everything unnecessary, onto the shore, and then the situation will become clearer. Some will receive their reward, while others will have to pay their debts.

Today there are many who strive to corrupt everything: the family, the youth, the Church. In our day it’s a true witness to speak up for one’s people, for the state is waging war against divine law. It’s laws are directed against the Law of God.

But we are responsible for not letting the enemies of the Church corrupt everything. Though I’ve heard even priests say: “Don’t get involved in that. It’s none of your business!” If they had reached such a non-striving condition through prayer I would kiss their feet. But no! They’re indifferent because they want to please everyone and live in comfort.

Indifference is unacceptable even for laymen, and all the more so for the clergy. An honest, spiritual man doesn’t do anything with indifference. “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully”, says the Prophet Jeremiah (Jer. 48:10). There’s a war on today, a holy war. I must be on the front lines. There are so many Marxists, so many Masons, so many Satanists and assorted others! So many possessed, anarchists and seduced ones! I see what awaits us, and it’s painful for me. The bitter taste of human pain is in my mouth.

* * *

The spirit of lukewarmness reigns. There’s no manliness at all! We’ve been spoiled for good! How does God still tolerate us? Today’s generation is the generation of indifference. There are no warriors The majority are fit only for parades.

Godlessness and blasphemy are allowed to appear on television. And the Church is silent and doesn’t excommunicate the blasphemers. And they need to be excommunicated. What are they waiting for? Let’s not wait for someone else to pull the snake out from its hole so that we can live in peace.

They’re silent out of indifference. What’s bad is that even people who’ve got something inside have begun to grow cool, saying: “Can I really do anything to change the situation?” We have to witness our faith with boldness, because if we continue to be silent we’ll have to answer in the end. In these difficult days each must do what’s in their power. And leave what’s out of their power to the will of God. In this way our conscience will be clear.

If we don’t resist, then our ancestors will arise from their graves. They suffered so much for the Fatherland, and we? What are we doing for it?.. If Christians don’t begin to witness their faith, to resist evil, then the destroyers will become even more insolent. But today’s Christians are no warriors. If the Church keeps silent, to avoid conflict with the government, if the metropolitans are silent, if the monks hold their peace, then who will speak up?

* * *

Give thanks to God for everything. Try to be manly. Pull yourself together a bit. Do you know what Christians are suffering in other countries? There are such difficulties in Russia! But here many exhibit indifference. There’s not enough disposition to kindness, love of devotion. 

You see, if we don’t begin to make war against evil, to expose those who tempt believers, then the evil will grow larger. If we throw aside fear then the faithful will be emboldened a bit. And those who wage war against the Church will have a harder time.

In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.

* * *

A lukewarm clergy lulls the people to sleep, leaves them in their former condition so they won’t be upset. “Look”, they say. “By all means don’t say that there’ll be a war, or the Second Coming, that one must prepare oneself for death. We must not make people alarmed!”

 And others speak with a false kindness, saying: “We mustn’t expose heretics and their delusions, so as to show our love for them.” Today’s people are water-soluble. There’s no leaven in them.

If I avoid upsetting myself to protect my fleshly comfort then I’m indifferent to holiness! Spiritual meekness is one thing, and softness and indifference are quite another. Some say: “I’m a Christian and therefore I have to be joyful and calm.” But they’re not Christian. They’re simply indifferent. And their joy is only a worldly joy.

He in whom these worldly seeds are present is no spiritual person. A spiritual person consists of nothing but pain. In other words, he’s in pain at what’s going on, he’s in pain for people’s condition. And divine comfort is bestowed upon him for his pain.

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“He Who Goes Low Goes Sure

Our goal is to live an Orthodox life, not just to speak or write Orthodox. If the preacher has no personal experience then his sermons won’t go to the heart, won’t change people. To think like an Orthodox is easy, but to live an Orthodox life requires effort.

Today God tolerates what’s going on. Tolerates, so that evil people will be unable to justify themselves. God expects patience, prayer and struggle from us. If you anger when you yourself are offended, your anger is unclean. But if someone is offended in the service of holiness, that means the zeal of God is in him. Indignation can be righteous when it’s indignation for God’s sake. That’s the only justifiable kind of indignation in a person.

It’s unseemly to become angry in one’s own defense. Resisting evildoers is another matter, however, when it’s in defense of serious spiritual matters, when our holy faith, Orthodoxy, is concerned. Then it’s your duty. To think of others, to counter the blasphemers in order to defend one’s neighbor — this is pure, because carried out in love. 

* * *

Evil lies within us. There is no love in us, so we don’t feel all people to be brothers and are tempted by [the knowledge of] their sinful ways. But it’s not right when moral failings become known to all. The injunction of the Gospels to “tell it unto the church” (Matt. 18:17) doesn’t mean that everything has to become known to everyone. By exposing the moral failings of our brother we arm the enemies of the Church, give them another pretext to escalate the war against Her. And the faith of the weak is shaken in this way too.

If you want to help the Church, then try to mend your own ways, rather than others’. In straightening yourself out you straighten out a particle of the Church. If everyone were to do that then the Church would be in perfect order. But today’s people attend to everything under the sun, only not to themselves, because it’s easy to teach others, while mending one’s own ways requires effort.

* * *

If we expose someone out of love, with pain in our hearts, then a change will occur in his heart whether he understands us or not. But to expose without love, with partiality, only enrages to object of our exposure. Our hostility strikes against his egoism, producing sparks like flint against steel.

If we tolerate our brother out of love, he will feel it. But he also feels our hostility, even if we keep it inside and don’t express it. Our hostility arouses alarm in him. We must always ask ourselves: “Why do I want to say what I’m about to say? What is motivating me? Do I really care about my neighbor or do I just want to show him how wonderful I am, to show off a bit?” If someone tries to solve ecclesiastical problems allegedly out of faith, but really thinking of his own advantage, then how can such a person win God’s blessing?

* * *

Sweet words and great truths have value when uttered by righteous lips. They take root only in people of good will and clean conscience.

Truth, when used without judgment, can commit a crime. And he who possesses sincerity without reason commits a twofold evil, first against himself, then against others. Because there’s no empathy in his sincerity. A Christian must not be a fanatic but have love in his heart for all. He who throws words around carelessly, even true words, does evil.

Veneration is a good thing, and the predisposition for good is also good, but spiritual judgment and breadth are needed to guard against fanaticism, that false companion of reverence.

* * *

Wakefulness and sobriety are needed. All that a person does he must do for the sake of God. Christ must be at the source of every movement. Much attention is required, for when we do something with the aim of pleasing others we gain no benefit.

We ascend to the heavens not through earthly striving but by humbling ourselves spiritually. He who goes low goes sure and never falls. Ours is an age of sensationalism and hullabaloo. But the spiritual life is not noisy. Divine enlightenment is required and when it’s not there the person abides in darkness. He may act out of good intentions but create many problems in his confusion, both for the Church and for society.

There was a time when the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us the way. A grand business! Today it finds no reason to descend to us. Difficult years are ahead. The Old Testament Tower of Babel was child’s play compared with our age.

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The Seal of the Antichrist Becomes a Reality

It’s possible that you’ll live through much which is described in the Book of Revelations. Much is coming to the surface, little by little. The situation is horrible. Madness has gone beyond all bounds. Apostasy is upon us, and now the only thing left is for the ‘son of perdition’ (2 Thess. 2:3) to come.

The world has turned into a madhouse A great confusion will reign, in which each government will begin to do whatever comes into its head. We’ll see how the most unlikely, the most insane, events will happen. The only good thing is that these events will happen in very quick succession.

Ecumenism, common markets, a one-world government, a single made-to-order religion: such is the plan of these devils. The Zionists are already preparing their messiah. For them the false-messiah will be king, will rule here, on earth.

A great discord will arise. In this discord everyone will clamor for a king to save them. At that moment they’ll offer up their man, who’ll say: “I’m the Imam, I’m the fifth Buddha, I’m the Christ whom Christians are awaiting. I’m the one whom the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been waiting for. I’m the Jewish messiah.”

* * * 

Difficult times are ahead. Great trials await us. Christians will suffer great persecutions. Meanwhile, it’s obvious that people don’t understand that we’re on the verge of the end times, that the seal of the Antichrist is becoming a reality. As if nothing’s happening. That’s why Holy Scripture says that even the chosen will be deceived.

The Zionists want to rule the earth. To achieve their ends they use black magic and satanism. They regard satan-worship as a means to gain the strength they need to carry out their plans. They want to rule the earth using satanic power. God is not something they take into account.

One sign that the fulfillment of prophecy is near will be the destruction of the Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem. They’ll destroy it in order to restore the Temple of Solomon which used to be on the same place. In the end the Jews will pronounce the Antichrist messiah in this rebuilt temple.

The rabbis know that the true Messiah has already come and that they crucified Him. They know this, and yet they are blinded by egoism and fanaticism.

* * *

Two thousand years ago it was written in the Book of Revelations that people will be marked with the number ‘666’. As Holy Scripture says, the ancient Hebrews laid a tax on the peoples they conquered in various wars. The yearly tax was equal to 666 talents of gold. (3 Kings 10:14, 2 Chronicles 9:13.) Today, in order to subjugate the whole world they’ll once again introduce the old tax number linked to their glorious past. That is, ‘666’ is the number of mammon.

Everything is going as planned. They put the number a long time ago on credit cards. As a result, he who is not marked with the number ‘666’ will be unable to buy, sell, get a loan, or find work.

* * *

Providence tells me that the Antichrist wants to subjugate the world using this system. It will be foisted upon people with the help of the mechanisms which control the world economy, for only those who receive the mark, an image with the number ‘666’, will be able to take part in economic life.

The mark will be an image which will first be placed on all products, and then people will be compelled to wear it on their hand or forehead. Little by little, after the introduction of ID cards with the three sixes, after the creation of a personal dossier, they’ll use cunning to introduce the mark.

In Brussels a whole palace with three sixes has been built to house a central computer. This computer can keep track of billions of people. And we Orthodox are resisting this because we don’t want the Antichrist and we don’t want dictatorship either.

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“The most we can suffer is martyrdom.”

There will be three and a half hard years. Those who don’t agree with the system will have a rough time. They’ll constantly be trying to imprison them, using any pretext they can find. They won’t torture anyone, but without the mark it will simply be impossible for a person to live. “You’re suffering without the mark”, they’ll say. “And if you had just accepted it you would have had no difficulties.”

For this reason, by learning to life a simple, moderate life here and now you’ll be able to get through those years. By getting a little bit of land, raising a little wheat and some potatoes, planting some olive trees, and keeping animals of some sort, a goat or chickens, the Christian will be able to feed his family. Stockpiling is of little use: Food doesn’t keep for long before spoiling.

But these oppressions will not last for long: three, three and a half years. For the sake of the chosen the days will be hastened. God won’t leave a person without help. Tomorrow thunder will strike, and the brief dictatorship of the Antichrist-satan will come. Then Christ will intervene, will give the whole anti-Christian system a good shaking up. He’ll trample upon evil and turn everything to good use in the end.

– And if someone receives the mark unknowingly?

It’d be better to say “uncaringly”. How can one be unknowing, when everything is crystal clear? And if a person doesn’t know, then he should become interested and find out. By accepting the mark, even unknowingly, a person loses Divine Grace and gives himself up to demonic influence. When a priest immerses the infant in the baptismal font, the infant receives the Holy Spirit without knowing it, and Divine Grace begins to abide in him.

Some people say: “What’s destined by God to be will be. What business is it of ours?”

They can say whatever they want, but in reality it’s not like that! Unfortunately, some modern priests diaper their flock like infants, to keep them from getting upset. “What’s going on today isn’t important”, they say. “Don’t be alarmed. All you need is to have faith in your hearts.” Or they scold: “Don’t speak on that topic, about ID cards or the mark of the beast. It will just upset people.” If they were to say instead: “Let’s try to live more spiritually, to be nearer to Christ and not to be afraid of anything. You see, the most we can suffer is martyrdom,” then they’d at least be preparing their flock for the coming tribulations.

Knowing the truth, a person will begin to mull things over and shake himself out of his sleep. What’s going on will begin to cause him pain. He’ll begin to pray and to be on his guard, so as to not fall into that trap.

* * *

What do we see now? It’s bad enough that cunning ‘interpreters of Scripture’ are commenting prophecy after their own fashion. They’re representatives of the clergy, but they’re more cowardly than lay people. And it would behoove them to exhibit a healthy spiritual unease and help Christians by sowing beneficial concern so they’ll be strengthened in their faith and receive divine consolation. 

I’m amazed: Doesn’t what’s happening give them any cause for concern? And why don’t they at least add a question mark to the interpretations they come up with? And if they help the Antichrist and the mark, lead other souls to perdition?

No, behind the “perfected credit card system”, behind “computerized security” lurks worldwide dictatorship and the yoke of the Antichrist.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads.

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.”

(Rev. 13:16-18)

“You must be ready for death.”

The world has lost control of itself. Honor and self-sacrifice have abandoned people. The taste of sacrificial joy is unknown to today’s people, and that’s why they’re so tortured. For only when you co-participate in the pain of another do miracles happen.

If a person doesn’t cultivate in himself the spirit of self-sacrifice then he thinks only of himself and doesn’t receive Divine Grace. The more a person forgets himself, the more God remembers him Those who die heroically don’t really die. And where there’s no heroism nothing worthwhile can be expected.

Our time is like a bubbling and steaming cauldron. One needs temperament, audacity, courage. Take care not to be caught unprepared, if something is to happen. Start getting ready now so that you’ll be able to resist difficulties. Christ Himself tells us: “Therefore be ye also ready” (Matt. 24:44), doesn’t He? Today, living in such complicated times, we have to be not merely ready, but triply ready, at the minimum!

Possibly we may meet not only with sudden death, but with other dangers. So let’s drive away the desire to arrange our lives comfortably! May love of honor and the spirit of self-sacrifice live in us.

* * *

I see that something is in the works, that something lies just around the corner, but it’s constantly being put off. Little delays all the time. Who’s creating the delays? God? Another month passes, then another couple of months! That’s how it all goes. But since we know what awaits us, let’s develop love in ourselves, to the degree that we can. That’s the main thing: for true brotherly love to exist between us. Kindness, love — that’s strength! Guard the secret as well as you can and don’t indulge in excessive frankness. If “he and I and the bell-ringer” are all in on the secret, then what will come of that?

Death in battle adds greatly to God’s mercy, for a person who dies the death of the brave sacrifices himself to defend others. Those who give up their lives out of pure love in order to defend their neighbor are imitating Christ. These people are supreme heroes. They arouse fear in our enemies. Death herself trembles before them, because they scorn her due to their great love, and attain immortality in this fashion, finding the key to eternity under the gravestone. They enter into eternal blessedness without difficulty.

That’s why I say to you: Cultivate self-sacrifice, brotherly love. May each of you attain a spiritual condition which will allow you to get out of difficult situations. Without a spiritual condition a person loses courage, because he loves himself. He can renounce Christ, betray Him.

You must be ready for death. We believe that nothing is in vain, that our sacrifice has meaning.

* * *

Remove your “I” from everything you do. The person who leaves his “I” rises above the earth, moves in another atmosphere. As long as he remains inside himself he cannot become a heavenly being.

There is no spiritual life without sacrifice. Try to remember, at least a little bit, that death exists. And since we’ll die in any case, let’s not take care of ourselves too much. Look after your health, but not to the degree where you begin to bow down before your peace and well-being. I’m not asking anyone to throw themselves headlong into dangerous adventures, but you have to have at least a bit of heroism, my brother!..

Feats are committed not by the tall in size but by the audacious, the heartfelt, and the self-sacrificing. There’s no barbarity in spiritual audacity. Such people don’t fire at the enemy, but over his head, forcing him to surrender. A kind man prefers being killed to killing. The harmonious person is prepared for accepting divine powers.

The mean, the cowardly, and the small of spirit, on the other hand, use impudence to hide their fear. They’re afraid of themselves as well as others and shoot without stopping. Courage and audacity are one thing; criminality and malice quite another. In order to succeed at anything one needs a wild streak, in the positive sense. He who lacks this wild streak can become neither a hero nor a saint. The heart must become uncalculating.

* * *

In our age audacity has become a rarity. Water, not blood, flows in people’s veins. So if a war were to break out, God forbid, many would simply die of fright while others would lose heart, because they’re used to an easy life. Fear is necessary when it helps a person turn to God. Fear from lack of faith, from lack of trust in God, on the other hand, is ruinous.

Such fear is driven out by audacity. We must remember: The more a person fears, the more he is tempted by the enemy. If a person refuses to strive to become courageous, and doesn’t strive for real love, then when a difficult situation arises he’ll become a laughingstock.

The warrior takes joy in the fact that he’s dying so that others won’t have to. If you dispose yourself this way then nothing will be frightening. Courage is born from much love, kindness and self-sacrifice. Today people don’t even want to hear about death. However, he doesn’t remember about death is living outside of reality. Those who fear death and love life’s vanities are in a state of spiritual stagnation. Bold people, who always keep death before them and think about it constantly, on the other hand, conquer vanity and begin to live in eternity and heavenly joy while still here on earth. 

May he who fights in the war for Faith and Fatherland cross himself and not fear, for God is his helper! God Himself will decide whether he is to die or to live. One needs to trust God, not oneself.

The Russians will take Turkey. The Chinese will cross the Euphrates.

Providence tells me that many events will happen: The Russians will take Turkey and Turkey will disappear from the world map because a third of the Turks will become Christians, another third will die in the war and another third will leave for Mesopotamia.

The Mid-East will become a theater of a war in which the Russians will take place. Much blood will be spilled. The Chinese, with an army of 200 million, will cross the Euphrates and go all the way to Jerusalem. The sign that this event is approaching will be the destruction of the Mosque of Omar, for its destruction will mark the beginning of work by the Jews to rebuild the Temple of Solomon, which was built on the same spot.

There will be a great war between Russians and Europeans, and much blood will be spilled. Greece won’t play a leading role in that war, but they’ll give her Constantinople. Not because the Russians adore the Greeks, but because no better solution will be found. The city will be handed over to the Greek Army even before it has a chance to get there.

The Jews, inasmuch as they’ll have great power and the help of the European leadership, will become proud and insolent beyond measure and conduct themselves shamelessly. They’ll try to rule Europe.

They’ll play all sorts of tricks, but the resulting persecutions will lead Christians to unite completely. However, they won’t unite in the way desired by those who are now engaging in various machinations to create a single church united under a single religious leadership. Christians will unite because the unfolding situation will naturally separate the sheep from the goats. Then the prophecy: “one flock and one shepherd” will actually come to pass.

* * *

Don’t give in to panic. Cowards are of use to no one. God looks at a person’s situation and helps him. We have to remain cold-blooded and use our brains. No matter what happens, we must continue to pray, think and act. It’s best to always stand up to a difficult situation using spiritual means. However that spiritual boldness which is born of holiness and striving towards God is missing today, as is the natural boldness needed in order not to turn coward in the face of danger.

In order to hold back a great evil, great holiness is needed. A spiritual person can hold back evil and help others. In the spiritual life the biggest coward can attain great courage by entrusting himself to Christ and His divine help. He can go to the front lines, do battle with the enemy, and win! So therefore we will fear God alone, not people, no matter how evil they may be. The fear of God makes any coward into a hero! A person becomes fearless to the extent he unites with God.

Parintele Paisie Aghioritul

On Raising Children

(Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain)

Many parents bring their children spiritual harm by demonstrating their love for them in an innapropriate manner. For example, out of an excessive human lovefor her child, a mother may hug and kiss him, and say to him, “ O what a wonderful child you are,” or “You are the best little boy in the world, ”etc. As a result, from a very early age(while he is still unable to comprehend or object to the meaning of those words), the little one aquires a high opinion of himself, thinking of himself as the best of brightest. Naturally, for the same reason, he will not sense a need for God’s grace, and will not know to ask God for help. Thus from early childhood, the chld will have a high opinion of himslef that is rock-solid, one that he will never be able to overcome and will take with him to the grave. Moreover, the frs to suffer from this haughtiness are the parents themselves. Really, will children quietly sit and lisen to parental instructions when they are certan that they are the best, that they kbow everything? For this reason, parents should be very attentive to their children’s spiritual development; they bear responsibility not only for themselves, but for their children as well.

Two Categories of People

I know from experience that in this life people are divided in two categories.

A third category does not exist; people either belong to one or the other.

The first one resembles the fly. The main characteristic of the fly is that it is attracted by dirt. For example, when a fly is found in a garden full of flowers with beautiful fragrances, it will ignore them and will go sit on top of some dirt found on the ground.  If the fly could talk, and you asked it to show you a rose in the garden, it would answer: “I don’t even know what a rose looks like. I only know where to find garbage, toilets and dirt.” There are some people who resemble the fly.

The other category is like the bee whose main characteristic is to always look for something sweet and nice to sit on. When a bee is found in a room full of dirt and there is a small piece of sweet in a corner, it will ignore the dirt and will go to sit on top of the sweet. Now, if we ask the bee to show us where the garbage is, it will answer: It only knows the good things in life and is ignorant of all evil. This is the second category of people who have a positive thinking and see only the good side of things. They always try to cover up the evil in order to protect their fellow men; on the contrary, people in the first category try to expose the evil and bring it to the surface.  

When someone comes to me and starts accusing other people and puts me in a difficult situation, I tell him the above example. Then, I ask him to decide to which category he wishes to belong, so he may find people of the same kind to socialize with.

Parintele Paisie Aghioritul

The letter of the Law can be deadly

I had asked someone once: « What do you believe you are? Christ’s warrior or temptation’s warrior? Did you know that temptation also has its warriors? »

A Christian must not be fanatic; he must have love for all people.

Those who inconsiderately toss comments, even if they are true, can cause harm. I met an author who was extremely pious, but was in the habit of speaking to the (secular) people around him in a blunt manner, which however penetrated so deep that it shook them very severely. He told me at one time: “During a gathering, I said such and such a thing to a lady.” But the way that he said it, crushed her. “Look”, I said to him, “you may be tossing golden crowns studded with diamonds to other people, but the way that you throw them can smash heads – not only the sensitive ones, but the sound ones also.”

Let’s not stone our fellow-man in a…. Christian manner. The person who – in the presence of others – checks someone for having sinned, or speaks in an impassioned manner about a certain person, is not moved by the Spirit of God: he is moved by another spirit. The way of the Church is LOVE; it differs from the way of the legalists.

The Church sees everything with tolerance and seeks to help each person, whatever he may have done, however sinful he may be. I have observed a peculiar kind of logic in certain pious people. Their piety is a good thing, and their predisposition for good is also a good thing; however, a certain spiritual discernment and amplitude is required so that their piety is not accompanied by narrow-mindedness or strong-headedness (strong, as in “unturning”). The whole basis is for someone to be in a spiritual state, so that he may have that spiritual discernment, because otherwise he will forever remain attached to the “letter of the Law”, and the letter of the Law can be “deadly”.

The one who possesses humility will never act like a teacher; he will listen, and whenever his opinion is requested, he will respond humbly. In other words, he will reply like a student. Whoever believes that he is capable of correcting others is filled with egotism.

– Geronda (elder in Greek), when someone begins to do something with a good intention and eventually reaches an extreme point, does this mean that he lacks discernment?

– It is a latent egotism that is hidden beneath this action and he is unaware of it, because he does not know himself that well, which is why he goes to extremes. Quite often, people begin with good intentions, but look where they may find themselves! This was the case with the “icon-worshippers” and the “iconcombatters” in the past: both cases were extremes! The former had reached the point of scraping icons of Christ and placing the scrapings into the Holy Chalice in order to “improve” Holy Communion; the latter, on the other hand, burnt and totally discarded all icons….. That is why the Church was obliged to place the icons in higher places, out of reach, and, when the dispute was over, lowered them so that we can venerate them and thus confer the appropriate honor to the persons portrayed therein….

On Divine eros

– Geronda, is “divine eros” the love we feel for God?

– Divine eros is something far superior to one’s love for God. It is a kind of madness. “Love – eros – madness” – is along the same lines as “envy – hatred –murder”. A precise love of God – complete with sacrifices – simmers slowly inside the heart; then, just like steam, divine eros (which cannot be held back) bursts forth and unites with God. Divine eros can soften even the toughest bones so much, that a person can no longer stand upright; he actually falls down! He then

resembles a wax candle in a warm environment, which cannot stand firmly upright. It falls to one side, then it falls to the other side… you straighten it, but again it bends, again it falls, because of the heat of its environment, which is too hot for it to bear.. When a person finds himself in such a state and he needs to go somewhere or do something, he cannot… He struggles; he has to actually struggle to get out of that state….

– Geronda, when someone is in a state of divine eros, and if he is in pain, can he feel that pain?

– If the pain is very intense, it is subdued and becomes tolerable. If the pain is minimal, it disappears altogether… Haven’t you seen how people who are in love with each other are entirely oblivious? They can hardly sleep… A monk once told me: “Geron, a brother of mine has fallen in love with a gypsy girl and has lost his sleep over her. He keeps repeating her name, over and over again… Is he perhaps bewitched? I have been a monk for so many years, and even I don’t feel that much

love for the Holy Mother as he feels for that gypsy! I don’t feel my heart leaping like that!”

Unfortunately, there are spiritual people who are scandalized by the term “divine eros”. They haven’t perceived what “divine eros” means, and they are attempting to remove this term from the Menaia and the Paracletic texts, because they claim that it scandalizes. Where have things come to! On the contrary, if you speak to secular people (who have experienced “secular eros”) about divine eros, they immediately say: “That must be something a far superior thing.” There have been so many youngsters who have experienced “secular eros”, whom I immediately “aligned” when I mentioned divine eros to them! I ask them: “Have you ever lost your footing on account of the love that you felt for someone? Have you ever felt that you cannot move and you cannot do absolutely anything?” They then immediately comprehend how this must be a really superior state, and we understand each other perfectly thereafter. They usually respond with: “If we feel that way with something secular, imagine what that celestial feeling must be like!” 

– How can one become dotty, Geron, by their love for God?

– Well, by keeping company with …other dotty ones, who will infect you with their spiritual dottiness! I will pray to one day see you… a complete madman! Amen…

I too have a small experience of spiritual madness, which comes from divine eros. In that state, a person reaches the stage of divine absentmindedness and wants to think of nothing else except God, the divine, the spiritual, the celestial… While divinely in love, he is deliciously ablaze internally, and he explodes externally in a mad manner – within the divine confines of modesty – and glorifies his God and Maker like an angel, day and night….

– Is that what we call “ecstasy”, Geron?

– Yes. That is when a person “takes leave of himself” – in the good sense, of course. That is also what we mean by ….”stand aside and shudder, o heavens” (έκστηθι φρίττων ουρανέ) [from the Eirmos of the 8th Ode of the Canon of Easter Saturday].

Divine madness takes a person beyond the earth’s pull; it lifts him up to the Throne of God, and makes him feel like a puppy at his master’s feet; a puppy licking His Feet joyfully and with reverence…

(Source: “Spiritual Counsels” – Elder (Geronda) Paisios of the Holy Mountain)

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Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience.

– St. John Climacus –

 

The Memory of this Saint is celebrated on March 30, where his biography may be found. He is celebrated today because his book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, is a sure guide to the ascetic life, written by a great man of prayer experienced in all forms of the monastic polity: it teaches the seeker after salvation how to lay a sound foundation for his struggles, how to detect and war against each of the passions, how to avoid the snares laid by the demons, and how to rise from the snares laid by the demons, and how to rise from the rudimental virtues to the heights of God’s love and humility. It is held in such high esteem that it is universally read in its entirety in monasteries during the Great Fast.

On holy and blessed prayer, the mother of virtues,  and on the attitude of mind and body in prayer

Step 28

1. Prayer, by reason of its nature, is the converse and union of man with God, and by reason of its action upholds the world and brings about reconciliation with God; it is the mother and also the daughter of tears, the propitiation for sins, a bridge over temptations, a wall against afflictions, a crushing of conflicts, a work of angels, the food of all the bodiless spirits, future gladness, unending activity, a source of virtues, a means of obtaining graces, invisible progress, food of the soul, enlightenment of the mind, an axe against despair, a demonstration of hope, a cure for sorrow, the wealth of monks, the treasure of hesychasts, the reduction of anger, the mirror of progress, the disclosure of stature, an indication of oneʹs condition, a revelation of future things, and a sign of glory. For him who truly prays, prayer is the court, the judgment hall and the tribunal of the Lord before the judgment to come.1

2. Let us rise and listen to what that holy queen of the virtues cries with a loud voice and says to us: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and ye shall find rest for your souls and healing for your wounds. For my yoke is easy 2 and is a sovereign remedy for great sins.

  1. When you are going to stand before the Lord, let the garment of your soul be woven throughout with the thread of obliviousness to wrongs. Otherwise, prayer will bring you no benefit.
  2. Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.

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(1 Please see The Ladder Step 19:5. It is possible for all to pray with a congregation; for many it is more suitable to pray with a single kindred spirit; solitary prayer is for the very few).

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7. Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer. On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul. Then let us present our petition to the King of all. This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord.

8. If you have ever been under trial before an earthly judge, you will not need any other pattern for your attitude in prayer. But if you have never stood before a judge yourself and have not seen others being cross‐questioned, then learn at least from the way the sick implore the surgeons when they are about to be operated on or cauterized.

11. If you feel sweetness or compunction at some word of your prayer, dwell on it; for then our guardian angel is praying with us.

12. Do not be bold, even though you may have attained purity; but rather approach with great humility, and you will receive still more boldness.

13. Though you may have climbed the whole ladder of the virtues, pray for forgiveness of sins. Listen to the cry of Paul regarding sinners: Of whom I am chief.3

14. Oil and salt are seasonings for food; and tears and chastity give wings to prayer.

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19. The beginning of prayer consists in banishing by a single thought4 the thoughts that assault us at the very moment that they appear; the middle stage consists in confining our minds to what is being said and thought; and its perfection is rapture in the Lord.

24. For everyone, and especially for those who have come to the King in order to receive remission of their debt, unutterable contrition is necessary. As long as we are still in prison, let us listen to Him who speaks to Peter:5 Put on the garment of obedience, cast off your own wishes and, stripped of them, approach the Lord in your prayer, invoking His will alone. Then you will receive God, Who guides the helm of your soul and pilots you safely.

25. Rise from love of the world and love of pleasure, lay aside cares, strip your mind, renounce your body; because prayer is nothing other than estrangement from the world, visible and invisible. For what have I in heaven? Nothing. And what have I desired on earth beside Thee? Nothing, but to cling continually to Thee in prayer without distraction. To some, wealth is pleasant; to others, glory; to others, possessions; but my wish is to cling to God, and to put the hope 6 of my dispassion in Him.

26. Faith 7 gives wings to prayer, and without it we cannot fly up to Heaven.

28. Though the judge did not fear God, yet because a soul, widowed from Him through sin and a fall, troubles Him, He will avenge her of her adversary, the body, and of the spirits who make war upon her.8 Our good Redeemer attracts to His love those who are grateful by the quick satisfaction of their petitions. But He makes ungrateful souls remain in prayer before Him for a long time, in hunger and thirst for their petition; for an ill‐conditioned cur, when once it gets its bread, makes off with it and leaves the giver.

29. Do not say, after spending a long time at prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with Him?

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30. A convict does not fear his sentence of punishment so much as a fervent man of prayer fears this duty of prayer. So if he is wise and shrewd, by remembering this he can avoid every reproach, anger, worry, and interruption, affliction, satiety, temptation, and distracting thought.

35. He who is busy with something, and continues it when the hour of prayer comes, is deceived by the demons. Those thieves aim at stealing from us one hour after another.

36. Do not decline when asked to pray for the soul of another, even though you have not obtained the gift of prayer; because through contrition the faith of the suppliant also frequently saves the one who prays for him.

37. Do not be puffed up if you have prayed for another and been heard, for it is his faith that has been strong and effective.

39. We should always perform every virtue, especially prayer, with great feeling. A soul prays with feeling when it gets the better of bad temper and anger.

40. What is obtained by frequent and prolonged prayer is lasting.

41. He who possesses the Lord will no longer express his object in prayer, for then, within him, the Spirit maketh intercession for him with groanings that cannot be uttered.

42. Do not admit any sensory phantasies during prayer, lest you become subject to derangement.

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2Cf. St. Matthew xi, 38‐30.

3 I Timothy 1, 15.

4 μονολογίστως. This may mean by single words of prayer.

5 Vid. Acts xii, 8.   

6 Cf. Psalm lxxii, 26‐28 LXX

7 The Choir of the Holy Fathers cries aloud: Faith is “the faith once delivered to the Saints” for which we “should earnestly contend” (Jude3). St. Paul, in writing to the Ephesians insists on one faith: “There is…one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5). To the church in Galatia, he says, there “is not another…gospel.” Continuing, he warns, “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema” Gal.1:6‐8. The Lord Himself asks, “when the Son of man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?” (Lk. 18:8). This faith is the faith of the Orthodox Church. Let us make no mistake; there “is not another… gospel.” So let us, according to our strength, “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the Saints.” May the prayer of our holy Fathers be with us in this saving struggle. [Ed.]

8 Vid. St. Luke xviii, 1‐7.  

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43. The assurance of every petition becomes evident during prayer. Assurance is loss of doubt. Assurance is sure proof of the unprovable.

46. Some say that prayer is better than the remembrance of death, but I praise two natures in one person.9

49. Do not abandon prayer until you see that, by Divine providence, the fire and water10 have diminished. For perhaps you will not have such a moment for the remission of your sins again in all your life.

51. It is one thing frequently to keep watch over the heart, and another to supervise the heart by means of the mind, that ruler and high‐priest that offers spiritual sacrifices to Christ. When the holy and super‐celestial fire comes to dwell in the souls of the former, as says one of those who have received the title of Theologian, 11 it burns them because they still lack purification, whereas it enlightens the latter according to the degree of their perfection. For one and the same fire is called both the fire which consumes and the light which illuminates. 12 That is why some people come from prayer as if they were marching out of a fiery furnace, and feel relief as from some defilement and from all that is material, while others are as if illuminated with light and clothed in a garment of joy and humility. But those that come from prayer without having experienced either of these two effects have prayed bodily (not to say after the Jewish fashion), and not spiritually.

52. If a body is changed in its activity from contact with another body, then how can he remain unchanged who touches the body of God with innocent hands?13

53. We see that our all‐good King, like an earthly king, sometimes distributes His gifts to His warriors Himself, sometimes through a friend, sometimes through a slave, and sometimes in an unknown way; and it will be according to the garment of humility that each of us wears.

54. Just as an earthly king is disgusted by a man who turns his face away and talks to his master’s enemies while in his presence, so will the Lord be disgusted by a man who admits unclean thoughts during his set time of prayer.

55. With this stick [Ed. the Jesus Prayer] drive away the dog that approaches, and however often he behaves impudently, never give in to him.

56. Ask with tears, seek with obedience, knock with patience. For thus he who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 14

59. Do not let the time of prayer be an hour for considering necessary things or even spiritual tasks, otherwise you will loose the good part. 15

60. He who keeps constant hold of the staff of prayer will not stumble. And even if he does, his fall will not be fatal. For prayer is a devout coercion of God. 16

63. If you constantly converse with the King concerning your enemies, take courage when they attack you. You will not labour long, for they will soon retire of their own accord. These unholy spirits do not want to see you receive a crown for your struggle against them through prayer. And moreover, they will flee as from fire when scourged by prayer.17

64. Have all courage, and you will have God as your teacher in prayer. Just as it is impossible to learn to see by word of mouth, because seeing depends on one’s own natural sight, so it is impossible to learn the beauty of prayer from the teaching of others. Prayer has a Teacher all its own—God—that teacheth man knowledge,18 and grants the prayer of him who prays, and blesses the years of the just.19

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9 A loving nature (prayer) and a fearful nature (remembrance of death), just as Christ has His Divine and human natures united in one Person.

10 I.e. fervour and tears.

11 St. Gregory the Theologian, Or. 40.

12 Hebrews xii, 29; St. John 1, 9.

13 This refers to the power of the Body of Christ in Holy Communion.

14 St. Matthew vii, 8.

15 Vid. St. Luke x, 42.  

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Step 28 does indeed contain the heart of St. John’s teaching on prayer. The Ladder, however, is interwoven with words about prayer and examples of the Fathers at St. Catherine’s Monastery who prayed and whose prayer was blessed.

Sept 28 is offered as an introduction to the feast of spiritual riches in The Ladder for the person who is not a monastic. Most folks do not live in a Monastery. Were a layman to pick up The Ladder and try to start at the first step and go all the way through, it would not be surprising if he soon laid the book down after reading about all the many renunciations and “hateless hatreds” he encounters in the first few pages. There well may be those for whom Step 28 could serve as a portal to St. John’s charming, and arresting, way with words which flavors this time-honored text of Christian wisdom.

St. John’s spiritual direction about prayer is just the thing for most of us. An unspoken need for many people is to have some direction in prayer. It is most helpful to know that prayer is “the mother of virtues.” Prayer is where we begin, so that when we speak or act, the Lord gives us guidance because He knows that we are listening to Him. We can build a virtuous life when we build it upon prayer. There is no other way.

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16 St. Luke xviii, 5.

17 Cf. The Ladder Step 21:7 Flog your enemies with the name of Jesus, for there is no stronger weapon in heaven or earth. [There is no prayer more powerful that the Jesus prayer. Ed.]

18 Psalm xciii, 10 (LXX).

19 I Kings ii, 9 (LXX) “granting his petition to him that prays; and He blesses the years of the righteous, for by strength man cannot prevail.”  

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Text: The Great Horologion © 1997 The Holy Transfiguration Monastery Brookline, Massachusetts 02445 

The Ladder of Divine Ascent © 1959 Archimandrite Lazarus MooreSaint John Climacus Holy Transfiguration Monastery Brookline 02445

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