Sunday, November 8, 2015

The demon confesses to a monk

A certain hermit once had a conversation with the devil. During the course of the conversation the devil revealed certain truths which are very beneficial for all Christian’s to keep in mind.
They will hopefully assist us to better comprehend how precious the Mystery of Holy Communion is, especially when partaken of with a clean and pure heart.

The devil once appeared to a certain hermit. The hermit mustered up the courage and asked the devil:

‘What things are you most scared of?’

The devil answered:

‘There are some things that are dreadful and unbearable to us.’

‘Which are they?’ The Elder asked once again.

‘The first and foremost dreadful thing is Baptism, with which we lose dominion and right over you. Then there is the wood, (he means the Holy Cross and the sign of the cross) whose mark torments us, pushes us away and makes us disappear…’

‘However, the most dreadful of all is that which you eat, your Communion….
It is more dreadful than the fire of hell...more dreadful than the hell we live in. ‘Those’, the devil continued ‘who are clean and worthily partake of Holy Communion, not only can we not approach them but we also fear to even look upon.’

And he immediately added:

‘Even though these things persecute and destroy us, we are nonetheless grateful towards people, especially those Christians who are careless; whose own passions willfully pull themselves away from God’s power, energy and Divine Grace of the Mysteries. Subsequently, these Christians, of their own accord, provide us with the right to captivate their hearts and prevent them from ever repenting.’

Experiences During the Divine Liturgy

Guidelines for All Orthodox Christians ( Metropolitan Philaret Voznesensky, the New Confessor )

1. Remember, you are a son (daughter) of the Orthodox Church. These are not empty words. Remember the commitment this entails.

2. Earthly life is fleeting; one is hardly aware of the swiftness of its passing. Nevertheless, this transient life determines the eternal destiny of your soul. Do not forget this for a moment.

3. Try to live piously. Pray to God in church, pray to God at home--fervently, with faith, trusting yourself to God's will. Fulfill the holy and saving precepts of the Church, her rules and commandments. Outside the Church, outside obedience to her, there is no salvation.

4. The gift of words is one of God's greatest gifts. It ennobles man, lifting him above all other creatures. But how this gift is now misused by a corrupts humanity! Safeguard this gift and learn to use it as befits a Christian. Do not judge, do not speak idly. Avoid, like fire, bad language and seductive conversation; do not forget the words of our Lord and Savior: By thy words thou shall be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Mt 12:37) Do not indulge in lying. Holy Scripture sternly forewarns: The Lord shall destroy all them which speak a lie. (Ps 5:4)

5. Love your neighbor as yourself, according to the Lord's commandment. Without love there is not Christianity. Remember, Christian love is SELF-SACRIFICING, and not egocentric. Do not miss an opportunity to show love and mercy.

6. Be meek, pure and modest in your thoughts, words and deeds. Do not imitate the profligate. Do not take their example, and avoid close acquaintance with them. Have no unnecessary dealings with unbelievers-unbelief is infectious. Observe meekness and propriety always and everywhere; avoid becoming contaminated by the shameless habits of todays world.

7. Fear vanity and pride; run from them. Pride caused the highest and most power angel to be cast down from heaven. remember, 'thou art earth and to earth shat thou return...' Deeply humble yourself.

8. The fundamental task in life is to save one's soul for eternity. Keep this as the most essential task, the main concern of your life. Woe to those whose indifference and neglect bring their souls to eternal ruination.

Source: Orthodox Heritage, Vol 7, issue 09-10, p 32

Dealing with everyday stress ( St. Paisios )

Today's life is full of stress. What is it that makes it this way? We seem to have all the comforts we could possibly imagine. Even in the most well off people there is still this sense of anxiety and busyness. Is it our worldly comforts that are the culprit?
St.Paisios offers some thoughts on this subject. He is direct in saying, yes, it is these worldly pleasures that are at the root of the problem.

He says,

Worldly stress is the result of worldly happiness, of worldly pleasures and self-indulgence. Educated externally and being full of anxiety, hundreds of people (even young children) are driven to psychoanalysis and psychiatrists. New psychiatric hospitals are being built and young psychiatrists go on for post-graduate studies. Many of them do not even believe in God or accept the existence of the soul. How can these people help the human soul when they themselves are full of anxiety? How can one feel truly comforted if he does not believe in God and in the true and eternal life after death? When man grasps the deeper meaning of this true life, stress goes away, divine consolation comes and he is healed...The answer to our anxiety is not drugs, alcohol, tranquilizers or psychiatric treatment. It will not be cured by Yoga or some new age or eastern meditation practice. The problem is that we have lost God as the center of our lives. Once we make our love of God the primary focus of our lives and allow His grace to work though us, then no matter what circumstance we encounter in life we will be comforted and embraced in His love. All anxiety disappears. This is the aim of the Orthodox way of life––To put God first and seek the Holy Spirit. The anxieties of modern life are only symptoms of our separation from God.

Saint Theophan the Recluse adds the following about anxiety:

Are you thinking of arranging your life on your own, through your own efforts and abilities, as if that was what you were told? Take a look, and if this is indeed the case, rush to correct it. With this attitude you will not get rid of your confusion....Seek the help of your spiritual father, participate int he sacraments of the Church, follow the fasting guidelines, read holy Scripture daily, and have a firm rule of daily prayer.

St. Paisios
Reference: With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man, p 167-168