Please Share Pandemic Vigilant Prayer

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Christ is in our midst.

A year has passed but the pandemic has not yet ceased. Just a few time slots remain to make this prayer truly “sleepless” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! 01:45, 02:30, 02:45, 04:15 and 17:30 UK time. This is a special request to our US brothers and sisters in particular. Please consider joining.
Your prayers

PS. Should you decide to join, please do not forget to sign up your name in the time slot you choose.

ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH AND LIFE

IMG_1699 2Meanwhile, in Syria

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst.

Here is the link to a time table to pray the Jesus Prayer in the time of the Pandemic crisis. Please choose your time slot to pray the Jesus prayer for 15 minutes for the world. 
 

You can have more than one slot if you like and apparently, there is an option for people to have the same time slot if they use a comma or semicolon but it would seem best to use the available spaces first. The time zone can be altered depending upon where you are in the world.

*  Please share with your Orthodox friends. 

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QagBKLCyxZJVtG8FX106QkrGMAXhf8u_GWVPiQEJXpk/edit#gid=2002126163

 

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Lockdown Great Lent Diary

Sunday of the Adoration of the Holy Cross

Another very moving lockdown reading, together with Saint Velimirovich poetry: Last Great Lent of the Russian Royal Family, as Reflected in the Diary of Nicholas II

Saturday 6 April

“…After tea, I read in the sunset until seven. The vigil began at 9.45 with the adoration of the Cross.” —

Your prayers

Blot out, O Lord, all my memories–except one

Blot out, O Lord, all my memories – except one.
St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Bishop of Ochrid
Poem XXX (30)

Blot out, O Lord, all my memories–except one. For memories make me old and feeble. Memories ruin the present day. They weigh down the present day with the past and weaken my hope in the future, for in legions they whisper in my ear: “There will only be what has already been.”

But I do not wish for there to be only what has been. I do not wish and You do not wish, O Lord, for the future to be the past repeated. Let things happen that have never appeared before. The sun would not be worth much, if it only watched repetitions.

Worn paths mislead a wayfarer. Earth has walked over the earth a long time. Earthly walkways have become boring, for they have been traveled again and again from generation to generation throughout all time. Blot out, O Lord, all my memories except one.

Just one memory do I ask You not to blot out, but to strengthen in me. Do not blot out but strengthen in my con­sciousness the memory of the glory that I had when I was en­tirely with You and entirely in You, before time and temporal illusions.

When I, too, was a harmonious trinity in holy unity, just as You are from eternity to eternity.

When the soul within me was also in friendship with consciousness and life.

When my soul also was a virginal womb, and my consciousness was wisdom in virginity, and my life was spiritual power and holiness.

When I, too, was all light, and when there was no darkness within me.

When I, too, was bliss and peace, and when there were no torments of imbalance within me.

When I also knew You, even as You know me, and when I was not mingled with darkness.

When I, too, had no boundaries, no neighbors, no partitions between “me” and “you.”

Do not blot out this memory, my Father, but strengthen it. Even if it reveals to me the abyss along which I am journeying in humbleness and nothingness.

Even if it separates me from friends and pleasantries, and demolishes all the barriers between Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

Even if it leads me outside of myself, and makes me seem mad in the eyes of my fellow wayfarers.

In truth, no companionship pleases me except Yours, and no memory pleases me except the memory of You.

O my Merciful Father, blot out all my memories except one alone.

*
Immersed in St. Nikolai Velimirovich’s Prayers by the Lake

 A view of Lake Ochrid (Ohrid), where St. Nikolai composed these prayers during his morning walks in the woods after Matins in the monastery

You will be their terror.

A most sobering perspective, and not only on fasting! I didn’t remember that word “terror” in Genesis 9. Wishing you all a most blessed, fruitful Lent.

Gladsome Lights

Met. Anthony Bloom

“Beginning [this week], Orthodox Christians abstain from meat; has it any meaning apart from the ascetic, the disciplinary? Yes, it has, I think. There is a frightening passage in the ninth chapter of Genesis. After the flood, when mankind has become even weaker than before, less rooted in God, more tragically alone, more tragically dependent upon the created because it has lost communion with the uncreated, God says to Noah and his people:

‘From now on all living creatures are delivered unto you as food; they will be your meat, and you will be their terror….’ That is the relationship which human sin, the loss of God in our lives, has established between us and all the created world, but particularly, in a particularly painful, monstrous way with the animal world. And our abstention from meat in the time of Lent is our act of recognition…

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A Fresh Start

A beautiful face eventually wanes; a beautiful body eventually deteriorates… A soul, though, full of kindness and love never ages and gets old”. St John Chrysostom
White Tower, Thessaloniki, Greece

A blessed Triodion (and Great Lent), a blessed new month and springtime to all of you! I have missed you!

I am back…

And struggling… Trying to put into practice “The Good Shepherd” chant-song dedicated to the spiritual fathership. Not sure what is more difficult: lack of grumbling and complaining; a gladsome face; readiness to serve or silence? As to the Kingdom’s violence or the hard work to spend ourselves on behalf of each other or … there is clearly no way out with personal preferences … Oh dear!

— Come here my blessed brothers,

All of us who are standing in a circle around our Good Shepherd.

Come, let us all offer unto him most welcome gifts:

One of us his gladsome face, 

Another one his lack of grumbling and complaining;

Another one his readiness to serve,

And yet another one his silence.

And let us all offer unto him the Kingdom’s violence, 

the hard work to spend ourselves 

On behalf of each other,

And the care so that our obedience unto our Lord 

Is never broken.

Let us all please with such offerings our dearest Father.

— And now, you, beloved, most honourable Father,

Cease not, tire not praying to God,

Seeking His Mercy for all of us,

Atoning for our sins.

Disobedient, defiled children are we,

Yet for the sake of your love for your children,

May we all be drawn together,

Unto the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Let us abolish all the feasts of God from the earth”

Psalm 73, written approximately 2.500 years ago. “Their kindred said in their heart together, “Come, let us abolish all the feasts of God from the earth.” Is this scripture fulfilled in our lives nowadays? (Luke 4:21) Unprecedented and appalling! No Easter in so many countries all over the world and quite probably no Christmas again in most. So many enemies of our Lord! May our Lord have pity on us. Lord have Mercy! A blessed Christmas to all, hopefully inside a church and with a proper church service, Holy Liturgy and Holy Communion. Your prayers

Counting the cost

Still in a discernment process. Again in lock down. Only now inside a monastery. Glory to God for all things. Counting the cost… whether I have enough to finish it … (Luke 14:28) It is this all that makes all the difference. “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33)

Your prayers

PS1. Today, one of my obediences was gardening, and guess what it was: climbers!

I am well …

 

Glory to God for all things!

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst!

There has been some concern about the poor little hermit as you have not heard from me since August and the website could not be reached. At the end of my last blog post, I wrote “Dear friends in Christ, I fear that this will be my last blog post for quite some time, as I am about to retreat for God knows how long. ” Little did I know then … That retreat was only the beginning of weeks of monastic “soaking”… God is in charge and may His Name be blessed. I feel like a “pupa” … How long will “this” last? How many weeks, months away from the blog and “civilisation” in general? Please pray for me as I am trying to learn how one can pray for all mankind.

In Christ

PS. I am not back. I am still there …

Letting God be God

 

dormition2

The Dormition Feast – A Homily on St. Luke. (10:38-42; 11:27-28) and a Story and a Farewell

Letting God be God

At that time, Jesus entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As He said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts that Thou didst suck!” But He said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” 

*

In the Gospel for the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, we meet that familiar scene in the house of Martha and Mary. Martha is busy preparing the food and Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to Him. Martha we are told “was distracted”. The burden of work she felt was laid unfairly upon her. Her distraction, her preoccupation had led to resentment and so she intrudes upon our Lord’s teaching:

“Lord, don’t you care…. Tell her to help me.” In her frustration and anger, she not only questions our Lord’s awareness, but she also gives Him advice and tells Him what He should do.

This, unfortunately, is what we sometimes do. We try to tell the One who cares for us beyond measure, the Son of God, what He should be doing for us.

 At the wedding of Cana in Galilee, the Mother of God notices that they had run out of wine. “ They have no wine.” This is in effect both a statement and a request and a tangible example of the intercessions of the Theotokos. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” The Mother of God is always vigilant about our needs too and continually intercedes for us before the throne of grace.

Asking is different from demanding. The problem is that we want to give God advice rather than seek help from Him and do whatever He says. We want God to assist us in going our own way.

St Dorotheos of Gaza said: “ Nothing is more harmful than self-direction, nothing more fatal. I never allowed myself to follow my thought without seeking advice.” This is why we have spiritual fathers in the Orthodox Church, not that their advice is perfect but that we have another a reference point in spiritual trigonometry. Often it is not advice that a person seeks from their spiritual father, but they come to him because they want to know that their spiritual father cares for them, that he can be trusted to hear their complaint, their sins, to walk with them, share their burden and to love them. How much more does God love us and know our needs even before we ask?

More than advice it is God’s action that saves us.  The Old Testament was full of advice which the people of Israel ignored. What was needed was someone to rescue them and us.

We see in the Falling Asleep of the Most Holy Theotokos that our Lord would not allow His mother to see corruption. He takes her to Himself and opens the way for us too. 

*

There is a story of a man who fell into a pit. The first man came along and offered him advice.” If you get out of that pit you should learn your lesson not to make the same mistake again.” A second man came along and offered him advice on how to get out of the pit the man had fallen into. A third man came and offered no advice. Without any hesitation, he went down into the pit and helped the man out. 

This is what Christ does. St John of Kronstadt writes:

Such are the comforting truths which the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos brings us: it assures us that Christ the Saviour, born from the Most-pure Virgin Mary, removed from us the curse of our sins and granted to all of us resurrection from the dead on the last day of the world. Is this not comforting for every Christian believer?

And having such an expectation of a general resurrection from the dead, let us try throughout our entire life to become worthy of the glorious resurrection into eternal life by means of constant repentance, battle with our passions and the temptations of the flesh and the world, and strive for success in all virtues, in order to eternally enjoy the infinite, incorruptible, surpassing all understanding, all feeling and all expectation – the blessings of the Heavenly Kingdom, together with God, the Mother of God, the holy angels, and all the saints. Amen.

 We should let God be God because only He can bring us to Life in the Resurrection. His word and His action save. So if we have to speak, we have no occasion or need to give Christ advice or tell Him what to do. Rather we should follow the words of the Most Holy Theotokos:

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

*

Dear friends in Christ, I fear that this will be my last blog post for quite some time, as I am about to retreat for God knows how long. Please keep me in your prayers as I will keep you and all mankind in mine.

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, 

that they also may be one in us ” (John 17:21, KJV)