Monday, November 23, 2015

St. Porphyrios: "Difficult times are coming, and the world will need help from the monasteries.”

“In the spring of 1985,” relates Abbess Theodosia of the Holy Monastery of Saints Theodore, Kalavryta, “I was at our monastery, and one night around 2:30AM I heard outside the window of my cell, in the monastery courtyard, that someone was digging. To confirm this, I blew out the light in my cell, and I looked out the window. I saw the flashes of a flashlight. Then I prayed to our wonderworking Saints to protect us.

I checked the windows and secured the doors to the courtyard of the deserted monastery, so that no one would be able to enter, and as I confirmed that the area was silent, I returned to my cell.
In the morning, we had a special liturgy. At the time that I was getting ready to go to church, around 5:55AM, the telephone rang. I thought that this was maybe some pained soul with some problem—something which occurs frequently—so I picked up the phone. To my great astonishment I heard:
“Listen, my child, this is Elder Porphyrios. Don't go outside when you hear them digging, they will attack you. Infernal people are surrounding your monastery.”

I asked him: “Elder, why are they digging? Did they find anything?”

He answered: “No, my child, it was taken by others earlier.”

I asked him again: “Elder, have you ever been to our monastery?”

He replied to me: “No, my child, but now I am there. Ask me whatever you want.”

Taking advantage of the opportunity, I asked him of the historical significance of the caves at our monastery. He replied: “Which caves? Because there are two caves near you. The one where the first nuns stayed?”

I replied: “Yes, Elder.”

He told me: “It would be good, my child, to do that, because the cave is holy. But will the villagers allow you? They will protest.”

I remained on the phone, without speaking due to my astonishment, because he spoke to me about real events. It should be noted that there are truly two caves, but we had not seen the second cave until we were in the monastery for over a year. The shepherds of the area had told us that there was a second cave.

That time when I remained speechless, with the phone in hand, I heard the Elder tell me: “Fish, O Abbess, fish!”

I asked him: “What fish, Elder?”

“My child.” he told me, “isn't the water in those springs perfect for fish? Put some fish in there, so that the people can eat. Difficult times are coming!”

In truly, when we came to the monastery, I tested the chemical status of the water that ran from two springs within the courtyard of the monastery to see if it was potable and correspondingly if it could support fish, to support the needs of the monastery and for the pilgrims that we show hospitality to. Truly, the water was clean, and corresponding to raising fish...

The presence of Elder Porphyrios, I sensed clearly, because in every dilemma that we would face, he was with us and gave us a solution. Once, he told me over the phone: “My child, you have a great struggle, but don't be afraid, I am praying with you every night.”

It should be noted that I had never met the Elder, nor had I ever seen him. I only had heard of his gift of foresight from others, but neither had I ever called him over the phone. I was astonished as to how he knew our problems and how he found our telephone number. Because of this, I called the Abbess of another monastery who knew the Elder, and I asked her: “Did you, by any chance, O Abbess, give our number to Elder Porphyrios?”

She replied” “Did I need to give it to him? The mind of Fr. Porphyrios is a [spiritual] television.”
Once, I and some of the sisters of our monastery were visiting another monastery. Elder Porphyrios, because it was a pertinent and important matter, called there, and asked for me, saying: “My child, the five men that want to be witnesses against the monastery's property, let them go to court. The truth must be heard, and they must know that this belongs to the monastery, because difficult times are coming, and the world will need help from the monasteries.”

In reality, five older individuals, who were very generous to the monastery, sought the truth regarding an injustice that had been done at the expense of the monastery. Thus, the monastery was justified.”

Babbling in Prayer ( St. Gregory of Nyssa )

Before beginning his discussion of the Lord’s Prayer, Gregory of Nyssa warns us about babbling in prayer. He challenges us to consider that we my have the habit of praying like a child, praying for things that are not practical, mere fantasies - great success, wealth, fame and so forth. He warns that these kind of prayers are the the result of our vanity and all we are doing is asking God to join us in our foolish passions. He says, “These and similar soap bubbles and vain inventions rise up in the hearts of the most foolish.” He points out that many of us fail to attend to the benefit of our soul, but instead seek to feed the self-centered passionate movements of our minds. He says, “That person is truly a sort of fool and babbler because he prays to make God the coworker and servant of his own vanities.”
Gregory uses the image of a poor person who regards common clay pots as precious and who approaches the all powerful king of his place who can grant many benefits, asking the king to shape a clay pot that he fancies for himself instead of the kind of benefits a king could provide. This is the same as one who comes to prayer without fully understanding the power of God and the benefits he can bestow and presents him with his own desires based on his passions. One may even ask God to defeat an enemy or even something as foolish as to win a sports contest. Do we not often fail to ask to be forgiven of our sinfulness, for help to overcome our slavery to this condition, but instead to ask Him to support our sinful tendencies. Praying for benefits of this world that go beyond our basic survival needs, that our fantasies come true, while neglecting the health of our soul and our critical need to be healed, to seek union with God so He can help us become capable to do His will is what Gregory calls babbling in prayer.
Jesus says, “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases...” (Mat 6:7). Let us not engage in our vanities when we pray to God and not try and make God a coworker and servant of our vanities.