Friday, October 21, 2016

Converstion with St. Paisios about his illness : cancer

–– Geronda, the final diagnosis has been made. Your tumor is cancerous and it's aggressive.
–– Bring me a handkerchief so that I may dance to the song: "I bid farewell to you, O poor world!" I have never danced in my life, but now I will dance for joy as my death approaches.
–– Geronda, the doctor said that first he wants to use radiation to shrink the tumor and then do surgery.
–– I understand! First the air force will bombard the enemy, and then the attack will begin! I'll go up then and bring you news! Some people, even the elderly, when told by the doctor, "You will die," or "You have a fifty percent chance of surviving" get very distressed. They want to live. And then what? I wonder! Now, if someone is young, well , this is justifiable, but if someone is old and is still desperately trying to hang on, well, this I just don't understand. Of course, it's quite different if someone wants to undergo therapy in order to manage pain. He's not interested in extending life; he only wants to make the pain somewhat more bearable so that he can take care of himself until he dies –– this does make sense.
–– Geronda, we are praying that God may give you an extension on your life.
–– Why? Doesn't the Psalmist say, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten?"
–– But the Psalmist adds the following, "And if by reason of strength they be foreshore years..."
–– Yes, but he adds the following, "Yet is their strength labor and sorrow," in which case it is better to have the peace of the other life.
–– Geronda, can someone, out of humility, feel spiritually unprepared for the other life and wish to live longer in order to get prepared?
–– This is a good thing, but how can he know that, even if he does live longer, he won't become spiritually worse?
–– Geronda, when can we say that a person is reconciled with death?
–– When Christ lives inside him, then death is a joy. But one must not rejoice in dying just because he has become tired of this life. When you rejoice in death, in the proper sense, death goes away to find someone who's scared! When you want to die, you don't. Whoever lives the easy life is afraid of death because he is pleased with worldly life and doesn't want to die. If people talk to him about death, he reacts with denial: "Get away from here!" However, whoever is suffering, whoever is in pain, sees death as a release and says, "What a pity, Charon has not yet come to take me... He must have been held up!"
Few are the people who welcome death. Most people have unfinished business and don't want to die. But the Good God provides for each person to die when he is fully matured. In any case, a spiritual person, whether young or old, should be happy to live and be happy to die, but should never pursue death, for this is suicide.
For a person who is dead to worldly matters and has been spiritually resurrected, there is never any agony, fear or anxiety, for he awaits death with joy because he will be with Christ and delight in His presence. But he also rejoices in being alive, again because he is united with Christ even now and experiences a portion of the joy of Paradise here on earth and wonders whether there is a higher joy in Paradise than the one he feels on earth. Such people struggle with philotimo and self-denial; and because they place death before themselves and remember it every single day, they prepare more spiritually, struggling daringly, and defeating vanity.

Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Councils IV: Family Life, pp 274-276.

Akathist to St. Paraskevi the Great Martyr of Rome

Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the Lord’s grace-flowing nun, and His fervent apostle and Martyr, we praise you with triumphant hymns, and we praise your memory most tunefully, sprinkling flowers and crying:

Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Hymns I offer to you the beauty of virgins, O chaste Paraskevi, martyr of Christ
O chaste Paraskevi, martyr of Christ, O chaste Paraskevi, martyr of Christ.
 For you struggled boldly, and you enlighten and shine with the rays of wonders on those who hymn you, and we offer you hymns with fervor:
Hail, child of pious faithful,
Hail, dear throne of God.
Hail, beautiful-voiced trumpet of love,
Hail, pure servant of the Virgin.
Hail, for from above you cover the Orthodox from blows,
Hail, you who cease the tears and groans of mortals.
Hail, for you are the protection of eyes,
Hail, for you rejoiced in the monastic path.
Hail, for you deposed the boasting of the enemy,
Hail, you who were victorious through Christ’s power.
Hail, divine adornment of Rome,
Hail, speedy healer of wounds.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Being the root from the divine prayer of your parents, Agathon and Politia watered you with the streams of piety. And you, O comely Virgin, flourished as a tree, as those who gave birth to you rejoiced in your grace, and chanted to the Lord: Alleluia.

Laughter and boldness, the streams of perdition, did not come near your soul, O Godly-minded one, but you spoke with the sacred virgins, and spent your time studying the Scriptures, becoming for us an example, for those who piously cry out:
Hail, most grace-endowed soul,
Hail, our most beloved righteous one.
Hail, nourishment of Orthodox asceticism,
Hail, heroism and worth of the calling.
Hail, divine seal of sacred missions,
Hail, boast and seal of the angelic life.
Hail, youth honored by God,
Hail, the ceasing of idol worship.
Hail, you who takes the honor from the false god,
Hail, joy of those who every cry out:
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
You were not at all conquered by the glories of this life, O pure Christ-bearer Paraskevi, but taking hope in the life above, you perceived the things of life as refuse joyfully, and were enriched with divine things, and cried out to God in fervor: Alleluia.

Following the words of your Incorruptible Bridegroom, the divine passing of your parents you perceived as a divine call, and you distributed your wealth to the poor, who praise your philanthropy, and cry out with all reverence:
Hail, you who were filled with the wisdom from above,
Hail, soul of godly monasticism.
Hail, nightingale singing praise of the Most-high,
Hail, you who bestow grace on monastics.
Hail, you who imparted your joy upon your brethren,
Hail, you who possess incorruptible treasuries in the Heavens.
Hail, for you showed manliness in trials,
Hail, for you dissipate the cloud of error.
Hail, greatly-victorious one on the road of the Martyrs,
Hail, lamp which shines with light of purity.
Hail, container that leads towards the Lord,
Hail, rays of the supernatural life.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Being zealous for the things of Heaven, you locked yourself in a Convent, O most noble champion Paraskevi, for you submitted your wise mind, and joyfully struggled with ascetical pains, worshiping the Lord, and crying out with bitter hymns: Alleluia.

You were raised by divine grace to the heights of love, desiring the crown of martyrdom, and having sought the blessing of your Superior, you spoke the word of the Lord and dispelled error for many people, who now hymn you:
Hail, dawn of consolation,
Hail, harp of divine knowledge.
Hail, you who shared the name of the Wise Virgins
(Matthew 25:1-13),
Hail, you who spoke with the spotless Angels.
Hail, you who embraced the angelic Schema with fervor,
Hail, protection and foundation of those who honor you with faith.
Hail, you who heard unspeakable voices,
Hail, you who were made worthy of the honor of the age to come.
Hail, all-fragrant lyre of the faithful,
Hail, salve for our eyes.
Hail, music of divine love,
Hail, breath of unsleeping worship.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
You walked the God-traced path of the Apostles, as another Protomartyr Thekla, and passed through the land of the Romans, and the cities of the Greeks, as an all-precious doe, preaching Christ fervently, and crying out with longing: Alleluia.

When Antoninos learned of your way Equal-to-the-Apostles, he placed a flaming helmet upon you, but through the will of the Lord, you were preserved utterly unharmed and remained pure, while all the faithful who beheld this, cried out victoriously words such as these:
Hail, divine doe of the flock of Christ,
Hail, for your fragrance was as pure nard
(John 12:3).
Hail, teacher of blessing and mindfulness,
Hail, sweetest apostle of the Savior.
Hail, for your words were preached by pure lips,
Hail, for you imparted your experience to ascetics.
Hail, for you are the worker of peace,
Hail, for you are the protector of those endangered.
Hail, catechesis of the holy faithful,
Hail, disappearance of the false gods.
Hail, aloe of Orthodox manliness,
Hail, reproach of the evil heart.

Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

waves and unbearable blows, you endured, O much-suffering Lady, for the tyrants sought to burn you, and to break the chain of your faith, but you stood as an unshakable divine statue of Christ, saying: Alleluia.

Shining with your wonders, the choir of those who believed through you were brought to the flock of Christ, enraging the Emperor, who became short of breath through his many tortures, and now these radiant Dwelling-places cry out these in gratitude:
Hail, pure and comely martyr of Christ,
Hail, our map and canon.
Hail, you who ridiculed the false gods,
Hail, you who shattered the faces of idols.
Hail, all-sacred nun, humble and dedicated,
Hail, all-fragrant rose, and seal of the soul.
Hail, for you endured ascetical pains,
Hail, for you also trouble the swarms of the demons.
Hail, dowry to Christ of many talents,
Hail, chosen ode of the God of all.
Hail, root of the presbyter Rome,
Hail, protector of every town and place.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Dwelling, as Paul, in prison alone, you were made worthy of the vision of an Angel, who showed you the honored symbols of the passion of Christ, in order to give you courage, O all-wise one, that we might cry unto the ages: Alleluia.

You are as a precious coin of the church, O Mother, bearing the seal of your Master, for you were tried by fire, and many tortures, O thrice-glorious one, and were not at all altered, as you hear from all these:
Hail, seal of sacred graces,
Hail, key of uncreated gifts.
Hail, for you endured the stretching of your flesh,
Hail, for you were steadfast manfully as you were being raked.
Hail, for your struggles reached the impassible peak,
Hail, Martyr who also shelters desert ascetics.
Hail, for you were placed in boiling tar,
Hail, for you were divinely kept unharmed.
Hail, savior for many in sickness,
Hail, you who grant light to the blind.
Hail, through whom goodness has come,
Hail, through whom magic has disappeared.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
You were tortured mercilessly, and brutally hung, without your steadfast mind wavering at all, but you cried out to the tyrant: Christ can deliver me from any of your tortures, to Whom I chant fearlessly: Alleluia.

Antoninos' eyes were burned from oil and tar, having asked it of you, but filled with great compassion, you straightaway granted him healing, O Paraskevi, therefore, the ruler who then espoused your faith, cried out:
Hail, spring of gifts,
Hail, well of healings.
Hail, for you won the spoils of the Romans,
Hail, for you preached the Sun of love.
Hail, divinely-breathed organ that makes glad the faithful,
Hail, purest eye that looks against the enemies.
Hail, you who bless those who hymn your many blessings,
Hail, you who conquers the opposing swarms.
Hail, sacred and genuine personage,
Hail, soul arrayed in light.
Hail, faithful honor and worth,
Hail, fragrance to men from Heaven.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Before your end, they placed a heavy stone upon your chest, O Martyr Paraskevi, while Jesus appeared to you at night, surrounded by light and the radiant ranks of the Angels, and totally healed you. Thus you cried in joy: Alleluia.

With the strength of the Master, you bravely surpassed the weakness of other women. Through the divine Cross and your prayer, you tore apart a fearsome dragon, while all were astonished and cried out triumphantly:
Hail, light-bearing nun,
Hail, crown-bearing Martyr.
Hail, you who were steadfast of soul in terrible dangers,
Hail, you who were victorious in beatings and asceticism.
Hail, repository of grace, and dwelling of love,
Hail, meekness of spirit, and giver of peace.
Hail, for you are the trainer of monastics,
Hail, for you are the intercessor to the Trinity.
Hail, chain of chaste virgins,
Hail, deliverer from sinister spirits.
Hail, you through whom the dragon was torn apart,
Hail, you through whom the governor was astounded.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
You were worthily granted from Heaven an incorruptible crown, O lady, and the grace of wonders, which were founded upon your virtues, and your many struggles and terrible tortures, from which you blossomed forth and were glorified, as your fellow struggles cried out: Alleluia.

Your all-sacred Skull, O godly-minded one, rests in the Monastery of the Bodiless Powers Petraki, to which we take refuge, Paraskevi, as we all entreat that we find mercy, and healing of vision, as we cry out with fear:
Hail, healing of the eyes,
Hail, divine stream of wonders.
Hail, foundress of the churches that bear your name,
Hail, plantress of rose-beds of monastics.
Hail, seven-towered castle of those who hope in God,
Hail, dew of Hermon that burns up dangers.
Hail, for your prayer leads towards harmony,
Hail, for your hand heals those in pain.
Hail, help for those fervent in faith,
Hail, providence that you give to the poor.
Hail, vessel of the blessings of God,
Hail, flower of joyous fragrance.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Water of incorruption is your Holy Water, O Mother, which heals ever sickness. Therefore, we who praise you, hasten to your protection, O Paraskevi, entreating for purification of soul, for those who ceaselessly cry to you: Alleluia.

We are delivered from the bitter assaults of the demons, O Mother, through the hyssop of your intercessions, and from the visages of false gods, which you threw down to the earth through your unshakable hand, utterly shaming them. In joy we hymn you saying:
Hail, moon of those living in nepsis,
Hail trauma of the demons.
Hail, astonishment of Orthodox asceticism,
Hail, guide of catechesis of the faithful.
Hail, for you were offered as a sacred seal,
Hail, for you were hung from a peg by your hair.
Hail, you who were nailed, for the love of the Lord,
Hail, you who bore the weight from the evil doers.
Hail, apostle among ascetics,
Hail, all-wondrous one among apostles.
Hail, for your members bore indignities,
Hail, firewood that accepted burnings.
Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
Rejoicing with good cheer, you entered the Bridal Chamber above, O sacred martyr, and fell at the feet of Christ, which you embraced fervently, O all-precious Paraskevi. He placed a crown upon your head, and you cried out: Alleluia.

Nourish me, O Martyr, from your Heavenly Mansions, with the manna of your divine love, that I may cry out with my whole heart the sweet and sacred name of Jesus, and proclaiming your grace, O pure one, I cry out in compunction:
Hail, outer wall of the faithful,
Hail, shield of those who bear your name.
Hail, you who saves the inhabitants of Krokou
Hail, you who drove back the Germans.
Hail, chosen woman of the vale of Tempe,
Hail, Martyr who makes the desires of the Bridal chamber disappear.
Hail, for you work a multitude of wonders in Rodolivo,
Hail, for you deliver from the chaos of the faithless through your intercessions.
Hail, surrounding wall of Meteora,
Hail, terror to the demons.
Hail, you who were enriched with the boldness of Christ,
Hail, you who are the protection of those who hymn you.

Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.
O divine nun, great prize of pious virgins to the Most-high (3) receive this as wild flowers, which we have gathered for you simply, and entreat the divine Trinity for salvation of those who cry with you: Alleluia.

Again, the Kontakion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As the Lord’s grace-flowing nun, and His fervent apostle and Martyr, we praise you with triumphant hymns, and we praise your memory most tunefully, sprinkling flowers and crying:

Hail, Paraskevi, O comely virgin.

Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!