Saturday, March 25, 2017

We must confess correctly ( Bishop of Kerniki and Kalavryta )

If, with God’s Grace, you manage to confess without shame and without making excuses for yourself , and in following your confessor reads you the forgiveness prayer,and you receive his blessing and depart from the confession room, is there anything else left for you to do? Yes. There are still two things of paramount importance for you to do. First, you must carry out the penance that the spiritual father has given you; and, second, you must make every effort to correct your life
and wrongful deeds. Otherwise, according to St. Basil the Great, what you did is not termed a confession, but idle chatter: “When one confesses
without subsequently correcting himself, he has
actually spoken idle words.”

There are three things chiefly you must correct. First:
If you on bad terms with anyone for whatever reason, regardless of whether or not the other person is at fault, you must forgive him with all your heart. For, if you do not forgive, you will
not be forgiven either. It is a decision and ruling
given from Christ Himself:
“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt. 6:14-15)
. Unfortunately, today people mimic what two Athenians once did in ancient Greece. Themistocles and Aristidis were dire enemies and always at odds with each other. At one point, the Greek nation appointed them as ambassadors to represent Greece on a particular matter.
What could they do in this instance? 

They necessarily had to be in agreement and work together.
Having set off for their journey, just before
crossing over into the foreign land, Aristidis turned to Themistocles and asked,
“Would you like to leave our enmity here at the borders for now, and, if you like, take hold of it again upon our return?” This is indeed what they did. They dropped off their enmity and hatred at their nation’s borders, they cooperated with each
other and executed their republic’s directive, and when they returned to Greece they took hold of their enmity and became spiteful enemies as before.
Today, this is what Christians who are bitter enemies and always at odds do as well when it comes time for them to go to confession. They drop off their enmity for a time. Where? Right at the entrance of the church. They ask each other for forgiveness so they can go receive Holy Communion.  However, as soon as they exit the
doors of the church, where they temporarily set down their enmity, they take hold of it again and become enemies once more. Can their visit to the spiritual father be deemed a true confession? Certainly not! On the contrary, it was idle chatter.


Do you have an immoral tie and sinful relationship with someone?
Sever the bond once and for all, and cut it off permanently. Because it is not possible to love God and fornication simultaneously. A certain philosopher was once travelling by sea. During the course of the journey, such a fierce storm
developed that the ship sank and he was able to save his life by the skin of his teeth. He returned to his home.
Wanting to ensure that he would never be
overcome with the desire to travel by ship again,
he proceeded to close off one of the windows in his house that had a view of the ocean.
If you similarly have run the risk of losing your soul on account of lustful relationships, and have up until now been spared from death of the body and the soul, flee from the causes of sin, no longer walk down that road, never again enter that house, no longer peer through that window, and close your eyes shut, so that the serpent, the devil, does not slither into your heart again. Otherwise, you did not confess; you spoke idle chatter.

Do you have in your possession anything that rightfully belongs to another person? Have you wronged or cheated anyone? Return it immediately, restore what you have acquired unjustly, because otherwise it is not possible for
you to receive forgiveness.

Dear Christian:
Do you want to make a true and perfect confession? 

First, before going to the confessor, examine your conscience. 
Second, when you are standing before the spiritual father, confess without shame and without making

Third, when you leave from the spiritual father, carry out the penance he has given you, wholeheartedly forgive your enemies, abandon your immoral and ungodly relationships, repay what you have acquired through injustice, and
then you will indeed be completely forgiven. Then the deaf and mute evil spirit will depart from you
(vid. Mt. 9:17).
O Holy Spirit! Grant to me first, and to everyone who will hear these words in following, Your Divine Grace, so that we may understand them,
and give us the strength to execute them, for they are words containing Your Divine Truth.

adapted from the writings of Elias Miniatis
         (Bishop of Kerniki and Kalavryta)


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Doctors and God ( Saint Maxim the Confessor )

Like doctors, when treating various physical ailments, do not prescribe one medicine to everyone, so does God, in treating our spiritual ailments, apply more than one suitable type of ministration. But He does cure every soul with medicines that are specifically beneficial to it. Let us thank Him for curing us, even though the medicine did inflict suffering upon us.

Saint Maxim the Confessor

Monday, March 20, 2017

Be careful not to waste your precious energies on redundant worries and vanities , which will turn to dust one day. ( St. Paisios )

Be careful not to waste your precious energies on redundant worries and vanities , which will turn to dust one day.

When you do this , you not only tire your body, but you also scatter your mind aimlessly, offering God only your fatigue and yawns at the time of prayer, much like the sacrifice offered by Cain.

It follows that your inner state will be like that of Cain's, you will be full of anxiety and sighs, provoked by the devil standing by your side.

St. Paisios

Friday, March 17, 2017

Saint Patrick, the Enlightener of Ireland

Saint Patrick, the Apostle of the Irish, was seized from his native Britain by Irish marauders when he was sixteen years old. Though the son of a deacon and a grandson of a priest, it was not until his captivity that he sought out the Lord with his whole heart. In his Confession, the testament he wrote towards the end of his life, he says, "After I came to Ireland - every day I had to tend sheep, and many times a day I prayed - the love of God and His fear came to me more and more, and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was so moved that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and almost as many at night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountain; and I would rise for prayer before daylight, through snow, through frost, through rain, and I felt no harm." After six years of slavery in Ireland, he was guided by God to make his escape, and afterwards struggled in the monastic life at Auxerre in Gaul, under the guidance of the holy Bishop Germanus. Many years later he was ordained bishop and sent to Ireland once again, about the year 432, to convert the Irish to Christ. His arduous labours bore so much fruit that within seven years, three bishops were sent from Gaul to help him shepherd his flock, "my brethren and sons whom I have baptized in the Lord - so many thousands of people," he says in his Confession. His apostolic work was not accomplished without much "weariness and painfulness," long journeys through difficult country, and many perils; he says his very life was in danger twelve times. When he came to Ireland as its enlightener, it was a pagan country; when he ended his earthly life some thirty years later, about 461, the Faith of Christ was established in every corner.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone

O Holy Hierarch, equal of the Apostles, Saint Patrick, wonderworker and enlightener of Ireland: Intercede with the merciful God that He grant unto our souls forgiveness of offences.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone

The Master revealed thee as a skillful fisher of men; and casting forth nets of Gospel preaching, thou drewest up the heathen to piety. Those who were the children of idolatrous darkness thou didst render sons of day through holy Baptism. O Patrick, intercede for us who honour thy memory.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

How Can Saints Help Us? ( Elder Cleopa )

  There is no question that only Christ is able to save us from sin. So, how can saints aid us? When we honor saints and ask them to pray for us we are not putting them in the place of Christ. They are close to God, so when they pray for us they seek our salvation from Christ.

Elder Cleopa puts it this way,

When the saints pray for us, it is precisely our salvation that they seek from Christ. They interceded with Him for our salvation. From Christ they entreat our salvation. This is what we mean when we say they intercede for us. By their prayers the saints petition for our salvation -- not, however, as if they themselves have the power to save, for the only one who saves is Christ. Thus we do not venerate saints and angels as we do God. (That which we render the saints and angels is solely a veneration of honor and reverence, while God we adore and worship with perfect adoration which is thus properly called worship) The apostle Paul reminds us that the saints are our fellow citizens who can help us. "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph 2:19).

How is we know that the saints have the ability to pray to God on our behalf? We know this from Scripture. "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having everyone of them harps, and golden vials full of orders, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev 5:8)

Some are concerned that the veneration of saints eclipse the glory and honor that belongs to God alone. But God himself glorified His saints. "And the glory which thou gravest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (Jn 17:22).

Elder Cleopa says,

No eclipse or depreciation of the glory of God results from the reverence and veneration of His angels. This is so, first of all, because the veneration that we offer God is one thing and the veneration we render to the angels and saints is another. The same Holy Spirit exhorts us to glorify God with His saints saying, "Praise ye God in His saints." Thus we glorify God likewise when we seek in prayer the help and mediation of the angels and saints, since the saints in their succession convey our supplications and requests together with their own prayers to God. The saints are given special powers by God to work miracles. It says in Scripture, "In the saints that are in His earth hath the Lord been wondrous; He hath wrought all His desires in them" (Ps 15:3). Elder Cleopa lists many examples from the Old Testament of people who were given such powers and then points out the powers of the Holy Apostles, including the seventy, who are able to render all sorts of things.

He writes,
God himself glorified His saints and robed them with His glory: "And the glory which thou gravest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" (Jn 17:22). Elsewhere He says, "He that receiveth you receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him who sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophets reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in th ename of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward" (Mat 11:40-41). These statements prove sufficiently enough the delusion of those who repudiate the honor shown toward the saints and angels, -- those beloved servants of God -- not realizing that in practice they turn their back on God himself, the Creator and Fashioner of saints.

Reference: The Truth of Our Faith, 67-77