Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Once there lived in the city an officer of the palace court. One day he was sent by the king to someone as a messenger. On the road, he found a dead person, who was naked. The officer was saddened with this lamentable image of misfortune and said to his servant, ‘take my horse and go on a bit’. The officer dismounted and approached the dead man. Taking off some of his clothing, he covered the dead man with them.

A few days after this incident, the officer was once again dispatched in the service of the king. But as soon as he left the city, he fell from his horse and broke his leg. He was immediately taken to his house, where he was beset by horrendous pain. The doctors looked after the ill man, but without result. After five days, his leg turned to black. When the doctors saw this symptom they became very concerned and, so that the rest of his body would not become infected, decided to amputate his leg.

On hearing this decision of the doctors the officer became very upset, wept over his misfortune, and, because of his sadness, could not even sleep. The night after he learnt this terrible news he remained completely sleepless. The lamps in his room thus being lighted, around midnight there came to the attic window an unknown man who approached him. ‘Why are you crying and why are you sad?’ The officer answered him, ‘Sir how could I not cry? For no good reason I broke my leg, and tomorrow the doctors are going to amputate it.’ This unknown man then said to the suffering officer, ‘show me your leg.’ He began forthwith to anoint the leg of the sick man and to massage it. After a short time, he said to the ill man, ‘Get up and walk.’ ‘I cannot, Sir, because it is broken.’ ‘Do not be afraid,’ the man told him, ‘lean on me.’ In fact, the officer of the palace guard rose up from his bed and walked; he had become perfectly well.

After this strange miracle, the unknown man said to the healed officer; ‘See, you have become perfectly well. Lie down and rest from your night time vigil and your sufferings and do not worry.’ Continuing he spoke a few words about the value of charity, based on the words of Holy Scripture: ‘Blessed are the meek (poor): for they shall inherit the earth’ (Matt. 5:5) and ‘For He shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy’ (James 2:13).

Following this short dissertation, the unknown man bid farewell to the healed officer: ‘Good bye and be always healthy!’ Saddened by the impending departure of his benefactor, the officer asked him: ‘Are you leaving?’ ‘What else do you want?’ he said. ‘You are now completely well.’ The officer said back to him: ‘In the name of God, who sent you? Tell me who you are.’ ‘Look at me carefully’ – the unknown man said – ‘and see if you recognise what I am wearing.’ ‘Yes’ the officer said, ‘Those are my own clothes.’ ‘Well, then,’ said the unknown man, ‘I am the same one whose body was tossed aside naked on the street and which you – with succour and mercy – covered with your clothes. It is thus that God sent me to cure you. For this you should always thank him.’

Having finished his words, he climbed up again, through the attic window from which he had come, and became invisible. From that time forward, the healed man never ceased to thank God and to distribute alms to the poor. 


The desire for good food is a trap of the evil one ( St. Paisios )

The desire for good food is a trap of the evil one. Whoever does not get rid of this desire is caught by the enemy’s hook and is fried in his own fat by his burning flesh. On the contrary, the desire for spiritual nourishment takes the heart away from earthly things and raises the soul to Heaven, where it tastes the food of angels.

St. Paisios

Saturday, January 21, 2017

On prayer and the nous (the intellect) - Fr. Savas of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou, Mount Athos

Fr. Savas was a disciple of Elder Ephraim of Philotheou [now of St. Anthony's Monastery, Florence, AZ] for 30 years.

On prayer and the nous (the intellect):

Your mind, your nous is a coffee cup, from which your heart drinks and is filled. If the cup has good stuff in it, the heart will drink of good. If the cup is not full and pours into the heart continually, the heart will thirst.

If there is room left in the cup—if it is not filled with good to drink, the enemy will come and pour poison into your cup, as much as is space for it. A little drop of poison is just a bitter taste in the heart—a whole lot of poison, like something that sours the stomach, is nearly deadly for the heart.

So why drink poison? Fill the cup to the rim, or better—keep it overflowing with the good drink that is spiritual thoughts, sobering joys of Christ's mercy, of death, of the Church, of the Panagia, of the Saints, etc. When you see poison has been added to your cup, start dripping in, pouring in, much good stuff. Open the Scriptures, the Psalms, or best of all the dripping faucet of "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me".

Then the enemy will rage helplessly, for without any room to add poison to your cup, he will not be able to reach your heart and wound it. This is the "secret" of watchfulness and continual prayer—a FULL cup of divine good. Keep the cup full of good, and keep that drink flowing into your thirsty heart, to quench its thirst and to edify it constantly.

May you overthrow the enemy, by the Name of Christ, by His grace, and by His Cross, the invincible weapon, unto the salvation of your souls, and that we may share the glory of His Dominion, now and forever!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Christ Teaches us Obedience ( St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite )

Now, what do we have to say? If the King of the angels was obedient to His parents, in other words, if he was obedient to the mud and clay that He
Himself created with His own hands, what must
we do?

We who are sinful and worse than a zero? How much obedience should we have toward our
physical parents? How much must we honor
them? How much should we love them? How much gratitude must we show to them?
Every child is obligated to give these four things to his parents, and he, in turn, should receive the
following four things from his parents:
sustenance, help, instruction, and a good example.

Children must especially display a great deal of patience with their parents’ shortcomings during their old age, as it is written:
“My son, help your father in his old age, and do not grieve him in his life, and if his understanding fails, be considerate and do not dishonor him
with all your strength” (Sir. 3:12-13).

Do not believe, dear reader, that we can possibly make any material or spiritual progress if we
disobey our parents.
Do not think this at all!
“An astute son is obedient to his father, but a disobedient son is for destruction” (Pr. 13:1). 

If we ignore our father, we become blasphemers; and if we annoy and sadden our mother, we are cursed by the Lord:
“He who forsakes his father is like a blasphemer, and he who provokes his mother to wrath is
cursed by God” (Sir. 3:16). If, on the other hand,
we honor our father, we will also be honored by
our children; and if  we receive our father’s blessing, the foundations of our home will be firmly established:
“He who honors his father will be gladdened by his own children, and when he prays, he will be heard. He who honors his father will have a long life, and he who obeys the Lord will give rest to his mother; and he will serve his parents as his masters. Honor your father and mother in word and deed, that a blessing may come upon you from him. For the blessing of a father establishes the houses of the children, but the curse of a mother
uproots their foundations” (Sir. 3:5-9).

In brief, we are obligated to obey our parents always. The only time we should not listen to them and instead choose the love of God is if they
ever order us to do something evil, or to transgress any of God’s commandments, or if they attempt to prevent us from choosing a way of life through
which we can better serve and be more pleasing to the Lord, such as the monastic life for example, as the divine Chrysostom affirms. 

The Lord Jesus Christ indicated this very thing when He was in the Temple and responded in the following way to His parents who were looking for Him:
“Why have you been seeking Me?
Do you not know that it is necessary for Me to
remain in My Father’s home?” (Lk. 2:49).

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jonathan Jackson makes a comparison to today's Beatitudes and those of Christ ...

Jonathan Jackson makes a comparison to today's Beatitudes , on how the world is run and those of Christ ...

-Blessed are those who are rich in self-confidence for they can accomplish anything in this world.
-Blessed are those who are free from all sorrow and pain, for they will enjoy their lives with ease and comfort.
-Blessed are the proud and stubborn, for they will make their own way in life and succeed greatly.
-Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for wealth and fame, for all will envy them.
-Blessed are the cut-throats, for no-one will be able to stand in their way.
-Blessed are the deviant and the cunning, for they will climb the latter of success and rule over many.
-Blessed are the individualists, for they shall be called the sons of prosperity.
-Blessed are those who none dare persecute, for they shall be the rulers of the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ says....
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. 
Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. 
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. 
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Jerusalem will become the capital of Israel.. ( St. Seraphim of Vyrytsa )

"Jerusalem will become the capital of Israel and in time must be the capital of the world. For it is the center of the earth, the Savior of the world was crucified there and raised from death."

St. Seraphim of Vyrytsa

On almsgiving.. ( St. Seraphim of Sarov )

Giving alms must be done with a spiritually kind disposition, in agreement with the teachings of St. Isaac the Syrian: "If you give anything to him who asks, may the joy of your face precede your alms, and comfort his sorrow with kind words."

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Saturday, January 7, 2017

After Divine Liturgy for young children

Children, as well as adults, should refrain from socializing until they are outside the church. If there is a place provided for children to play, now is the time. Children who have stood quietly throughout the Divine Liturgy should be praised for their good behavior and allow to burn off some energy before the Agape meal. There is a time and place for everything and just because we do not allow children to play in the church does not mean that we do not understand their need to play.

If there is a meal at the church after Divine Liturgy, children's good manners can make for a very pleasant social experience, while bad manners can make the meal difficult for everybody. If the food is being served buffet style, children should always be served after the adults. Small children will need their parents to make up a plate for them, but even older children may need parental supervision to be sure that they do not take more food than they can eat. 

Of course, nobody should take any food until the blessing has been given by the Priest.

 The parents should take responsibility to clean up any mess made by their children. Older children and teenagers should be encouraged to assist in serving the food and cleaning up after the meal. This will help them to feel that they are a part of the community.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Holy Day of Light -Theophany ( Saint Gregory the Theologian )

 Saint Gregory the Theologian refers to this great time of celebration in the Church as the "Day of Light."

  He says,

For the Holy Day of Lights, to which we have come, and which we are celebrating today, has for it's origin the Baptism of my Christ, the True Light That lightens every man that comes into the world, and effects my purification, and assists that light which we received from the beginning from Him above, but which we darkened by sin. The image of Christ as one who brings light to the world can be a powerful one if we realize that without Him we are in darkness. It is His light that lights the path to His Kingdom, to union with God. Without it the path is impossible to find and we are left wandering in darkness seeking what we cannot find.

Saint Gregory says,

Therefore listen to the voice of God, which sounds so exceeding clearly to me, who am both disciple and master of these mysteries, as would to God it may sound to you; I am the Light Of The World. Therefore approach ye to Him and be enlightened, and let not your faces be ashamed, being signed with the true Light. It is a season of new birth, let us be born again. It is a time of reformation, let us receive again the first Adam. Let us not remain what we are, but let us become what we once were... See the grace of the day; see the power of this mystery... This event is the establishment of the Sacrament of Baptism where we begin our healing from the sinful natured we have inherited from the fall of Adam and Eve. It is an event celebrating our renewal through our baptism, the time we became Christians with the Holy Spirit within guiding us toward a life like Him, made evermore effect as we participate in the teachings, practices and sacraments of the Church.

Saint Gregory puts it this way,

We were turned into a den of all sorts of passions, which cruelly devour and consume the inner man; but there was this further evil, that man actually made gods the advocates of his passions, so that sin might be reckoned not only irresponsible, but even divine, taking refuge in the objects of his worship as apology. It is on this day that Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan and submitted to the baptism of John to renew and fulfill it as an act to join us to God, being absolved of all our sins through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Gregory says,

Jesus goes up out of the water ...for with Himself He carries up the world ... And sees the heaven opened which Adam had shut against himself and all his prosperity, as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword. And the Spirit bears witness to His Godhead, for he descends upon One that is like Him, as does the Voice from Heaven..., and like a Dove, for He honors the Body... By being seen in a body form... On this day the divine nature of Christ is revealed as part of the Holy Trinity. He became fully flesh in the Incarnation to renew all of mankind. Today we celebrate the beginning of His actions to help us rejoin in union with Him.

Reference: On The Holy Lights by Saint Gregory the Theologian

Theophany - More than Blessing of Waters

On January 6th we celebrate the Theophany, the full manifestation of God, the Holy Trinity revealed to us. Too often we only think about this as the time when we get Holy Water from the Church or when the Priest comes to bless our homes, but the significance of this event is so much more.
We are fortunate to have commentary from the second century by St Hippolytus [a.d. 170–236.] who was the disciple of Irenæus. We often raise the question, "Why did Jesus have to be baptized if He was sinless?" He explains why John, who resisted baptizing Jesus because he felt unworthy and inferior to Him thinking that he should be baptized by Jesus, baptized Him who was God Himself.
Hyppolytus shows how Christ comforted John,
And what saith the Lord to him? “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt 3:15) “Suffer it to be so now,” John; thou art not wiser than I. Thou seest as man; I foreknow as God. It becomes me to do this first, and thus to teach. I engage in nothing unbecoming, for I am invested with honour. Dost thou marvel, O John, that I am not come in my dignity? The purple robe of kings suits not one in private station, but military splendour suits a king: am I come to a prince, and not to a friend? “Suffer it to be so now for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness:” I am the Fulfiller of the law; I seek to leave nothing wanting to its whole fulfilment, that so after me Paul may exclaim, “Christ is the fulfilling of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Rom 10:4) “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Saint Hyppolytus tells us why Jesus was baptized, speaking from viewpoint of Jesus,

Baptize me, John, in order that no one may despise baptism. I am baptized by thee, the servant, that no one among kings or dignitaries may scorn to be baptized by the hand of a poor priest. Suffer me to go down into the Jordan, in order that they may hear my Father’s testimony, and recognise the power of the Son. “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then at length John suffers Him. “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and the heavens were opened unto Him; and, lo, the Spirit of God descended like a dove, and rested upon Him. And a voice (came) from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:16-17) Jesus wanted to emphasize the role of the priest in baptizing those who chose to follow Him. He wanted all to hear the testimony of the Father so others would accept Him as His Son as this was the time He began His public ministry.
Saint Hyppolytus continues uplifting our sight even higher,
Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost, if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John, and declined baptism? For the heavens were shut before this; the region above was inaccessible. We would in that case descend to the lower parts, but we would not ascend to the upper. But was it only that the Lord was baptized? He also renewed the old man, and committed to him again the sceptre of adoption. For straightway “the heavens were opened to Him.” A reconciliation took place of the visible with the invisible; the celestial orders were filled with joy; the diseases of earth were healed; secret things were made known; those at enmity were restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the evangelist, saying, “The heavens were opened to Him,” on account of three wonders. For when Christ the Bridegroom was baptized, it was meet that the bridal-chamber of heaven should open its brilliant gates. And in like manner also, when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was meet that “the gates of heaven should be lifted up.” (Ps 24: 7) “And, lo, the heavens were opened to Him; and a voice was heard, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Most significantly we see in this event that the heavens are opened for all mankind who follow Him and join with Him through Baptism to become His adopted children. Christ shows us that we begin our Journey with Him through baptism. This is a Holy Sacrament where heavens are opened and we join with The Holy Trinity to be transformed, born again, so we can become like Him and have eternal life in His kingdom as one of His children.

Christ’s baptism in the Jordan was A “theophany,” in that the world was granted a revelation of the Holy Trinity. The Father testified from on high to the divine Sonship of Jesus; the Son received His Father’s testimony; and the Spirit was seen in the form of a dove, descending from the Father and resting upon the Son.
In the hymn of the Feast we sing, “Christ has appeared and enlightened the world.” Thus, January 6 is also known as the Feast of Lights. The Church celebrates on this day the illumination of the world by the light of Christ.

Reference: Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 5, Hyppolytus, Discourse on Holy Theophany