Friday, June 30, 2017

God's grace through divine healing

We appeal to God for the healing of our souls and bodies only as a last resort. God’s healing is always a miraculous act, and we are afraid of facing the manifestation of the almighty power of God. Although the healing we receive from God is a gift, we also know that its implications are many and everlasting.

There is a price tag on divine healing, and the price is a complete change of life. It is indeed a serious price – for change does not come easily. For this reason, divine healing can only take place when it is really wanted. It also requires a total submission and a full commitment to the relationship of faith with God’s divine power.

In order to understand this process, we can look closely at the healing performed by our Lord, Jesus Christ at the pool called Bethesda by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem. An angel of the Lord would come down at a certain time and stir the waters of the pool. Then, “whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had” (John 5:4).

At the pool, there was a man who had suffered from an infirmity for thirty-eight years. “When Jesus saw him lying there,” says the Gospel, “and knew that he already had been in that condition for a long time, He said to the him, ‘Do you want to be made well’ ” (complete, whole)?

At first, this question seemed superfluous to the sick man as suggested by his answer: “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”

But the Lord’s question had a deeper meaning. The Lord asked the sick man if he really wanted to be made well and if he were ready to pay the price of the divine healing that the Lord was about to perform. Was he committed to the relationship that would be established by the divine intervention about to take place? Was he ready to submit totally to the will of God?

Divine healing would not only take away the man’s infirmity, but would also change his life forever. It would change his heart and his mind. It would also make him spiritually well. So, in other words, the Lord was asking the sick man, “Are you ready to be touched by God in this special way?”

When he agreed, Jesus commanded him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.”

The man obeyed the Lord, even though he knew it was the Sabbath day.

Those who saw him carrying his bed, reminded him, “It is the Sabbath day, and it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” Showing his complete submission to the Lord, he answered them: “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’ ”

After the healing, the Lord disappeared among the multitudes of people.

The Gospel says that, at this point, the healed man did not know who Jesus was. It was only after awhile that the Lord met him in the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing will happen to you.”

First of all, in the healing process, the sick man obtained the forgiveness of his sins. Secondly, the healing that he accepted changed his life so much that he could not go back to his old ways of understanding or leading his life. In fact, it was as if the sick man was arraigned and placed on divine parole. “If you break your parole,” the Lord seemed to say, “you will not only go back to your old situation, but to an even worse one.”

Divine healing as a gift from God, still has a spiritual price. When we pay it, however, we help ourselves. It changes us more drastically then anything before has ever changed us.

It calls us to a new life, a renewed relationship with our fellow man, and a total submission to God. That’s why it often seems much easier to take a pill and go to bed, or to see a doctor and then complain about the bill.

Nonetheless, have courage my friends. Don’t be afraid to appeal to God’s healing and to accept His purifying power that changes everything within you. Divine healing erases our sinful past, makes well of our present and helps save our souls. We must also remember that His healing will place us on divine parole, and that we must sin no more. Amen.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

St. John the Forerunner performs miracles

I heard the following account that took place in 1937 [says monk Lazaros] to my amazement and surprise from monk Chrysanthos:
"As you are aware, Father Lazarus, for many years now I have repeatedly attempted to become a
director and member the monastery’s Council of Elders.

After trying at length, pleading with various fathers, and oftentimes bringing this matter up
with the Abbot without success, I became
extremely distraught and upset.Through the
synergy of the devil, I became despondent and my mind was darkened to such an extent that I decided to put an end to my life. "Can you believe it?" I would ask myself.

"They appoint so many other younger monks to
this position! But they disregard me, even though I have grown old in this monastery working at so many different assignments! I will not tolerate this any longer. I'll go down to the shore, and jump in the ocean then it will be on their conscience."

I pondered on these thoughts for a several days, until I firmly decided to go through with it. However, our merciful Lord, through the intercessions of our holy patron Saint John the Honorable Forerunner, gave me the thought to fast for three days prior to executing my plan.

I thus isolated myself in my room for three days.
I shut my door and window shutters, and, within the darkness of my cell, I prayed continuously for two days and nights without eating or drinking anything, without even lying down on my bed. I prayed standing, then seated, and when I sensed sleep coming on, I would again arise to pray. On the third day, around 10 o'clock in the evening, suddenly a brilliant light appeared that lit up my entire room.

Simultaneously, I heard a loud voice saying to me: "Why aren't you at peace? Why are you distraught
and planning to go down to the shore to drown in t
he sea?" As soon as I saw the light and heard this voice, the sadness and dejection that had been plaguing me altogether disappeared, and I began
crying, wailing, and shedding tears, asking for forgiveness, and confessing that I had sinned and been deceived by the evil one: "Forgive me, Saint John..." He then responded, "Why have you stopped chanting?

Why haven't you approached the chanter's stand this past week, but instead you wander about here and there asking to become a director? Don't I know who should become a director? If I don't want you to become a director, how can you become one? Don't I know who should become a director?" In the meantime, I had fallen to the ground and was weeping ceaselessly,
begging for forgiveness, and promising that henceforth I would be at peace, I would return to the chanter's stand, and never again seek to become a director.

After I said these things,the brilliant light vanished. I no longer felt uneasy, I immediately felt peace, and when the bell rang for the beginning of the service, I went to church and
followed the entire service."

Monk Chrysanthos [notes monk Lazaros] was very guileless, and for twenty-five years he had
chanted in the right choir with much zeal and reverence.

This is why he received divine mercy and
special intervention from the Honorable Forerunner.

from the book
Narrations from Dionysiou Monastery

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Enter into the Church and wash away your sins. ( St. John Chrysostom )

Enter into the Church and wash away your sins.

For here , there is a hospital and not a court of law.

St, John Chrysostom

The devil will use every opportunity to pit the true Orthodox Christians against each other ( Fr. Seraphim Rose )

In the coming years, the devil will use every opportunity to pit the true Orthodox Christians against each other, sometimes with issues great and other times (more commonly) small. We must try with steadfastness to not get caught by the bait.

Fr. Seraphim Rose

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lying: right or wrong ( St. Paisios )

Can we lie to save someone's life? Should we lie if its a good reason?

St. Paisios give this advice:

It is a sin for someone to lie. When he lies for a good cause, i.e. to save someone else, this is half a sin, because the lie is for the benefit of his fellow man and not for himself. However it is also considered a sin; therefore, we should keep it in mind, and not fall into the habit of telling lies for insignificant things.In our day-to-day world we are bombarded with advertisements trying to influence us. Many of the claims are partial lies or half- truths intended to deceive us into thinking something other than what is the full truth. This is also a form of lying that we are commonly caught up in. Do we not often tell half-lies (a bit of embellishment) during our daily activities to make things seem better than they really are? Lies of all kinds will do us harm unless we recognize the error in engaging in them.

  St. Paisios gives some advice to business owners.

There are good and bad merchants, honest and dishonest ones. The honest ones tell the truth, use good materials and their prices are reasonable. The others lie and make illicit profits. At the beginning people ignore the honest merchant and his shop runs the risk to close down. Later on, though, God reveals the fraudulence of he dishonest ones and gives His blessing to the honest merchants.In the end he is saying that we are rewarded by our truthfulness. But in the short term we may be put at an disadvantage materially. This is why there is so much lying in our day-to-day world and why we must struggle not to engage in such activity. Any sin can separate us from God.

  St. Paisios

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The kindness of God ( St. Paisios )

 As the kindness of God renders everything useful for a good purpose, so too must we, His creatures, make good use of everything in order to be benefited and benefit others.

St. Paisios

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The powerful influence a mother has over her child ( Saint Nektarios of Aegina )

The upbringing of children must begin during infancy. This is necessary in order to direct the child’s powers of the soul—as soon as they begin to emerge—toward good, virtue, and truth, while simultaneously distancing them from evil, indecency, and falsehood.

This age is the secure foundation upon which a child’s moral and intellectual understanding will be erected. Thus, Fokilidis says: “It is necessary to teach someone to do good work while he is still a child,” because man sets out from childhood, as from a starting block, to run the race of life.

St.Basil the Great affirms: “It is necessary for the soul to be guided right from the very beginning toward every virtuous exercise, while it is still soft and moldable as wax; so that, as a child begins to speak and to acquire discernment, there exists a road comprised of the elemental concepts and devout etiquette that were initially imparted, giving him the ability to speak good and useful things and inspiring him to acquire a proper moral conduct.” Truly!

Who will not agree that the first impressions during childhood remain permanently ingrained and unforgettable? Who doubts that various influences during early youth become so deeply imprinted upon a child’s tender soul, that they continue to exist vividly throughout the duration of his life?

Nature has appointed parents, but especially mothers, to be instructors during this early stage of life. Hence, it is necessary for us to suitably teach and diligently raise virtuous women, on account of their supreme calling to become teachers; for they will serve as the images and examples that their own children will follow. A child mimics either the virtues or bad habits of his mother—even her
voice and manners, even her ethos and conduct to such an extent, that one can very appropriately liken children to phonographic records that initially register sound, and then play it back as it was originally voiced, in the identical pitch, the same quality, and with the same accent and emphasis.

Each glance, every word, every gesture, and every action of a mother becomes the glance, word, expression, gesture, and action of her child. Hence, Asterios notes: “one child speaks exactly like his mother, another bears a striking resemblance to her personality, while yet another takes on his birth giver’s manner and conduct.” By being in the constant presence of her child and through her repeated counsels, a mother profoundly affects the soul and character of her child, and she first provides him with the initial impetus toward virtue.

Saint Nektarios of Aegina