My cave

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— “Elder, I want to flee to the mountains, far away from the world, and find a cave to hide so that neither I tire anybody nor I get worn out”.

— “Try, my dear child, to enter Jesus’ cave, and once inside there, everything will be put right.”

St Amphilochios of Patmos (Makris)

* This recently canonised Saint awaited the little city hermit, ‘called’ him through his spiritual father and eventually ‘adopted’ him during his recent trip to Patmos. Glory to God for all things!!! “I think he would not have called you to visit him if it was not for this blessing” [Abouna].  Yet the Saint’s reassurance was sobering: “You should be glad. Jesus holds an artist’s chisel in His hands. He wants to prepare you a statue for the Heavenly Palace.” May St. Amphilochios teach the little city hermit to submit, like all the saints, to whatever God sends him, with childlike simplicity: “That’s the way You want it. Let Your will be done.”

 

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“Worldly people tire you, because whatever is stored up inside them comes at you like waves of electricity. We must be people of grace so much so that whoever comes to us may find rest.”

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-“How do you manage to have such patience and perseverance in everything?”

– “The grace of God helps. I always believe in the power of God, my child, Who alters and adjusts everything for the benefit of our soul.”

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“When I see a person who is irritated, I don’t listen to what he is saying, but pray for God to pacify him. That’s why I don’t get distressed. When they calm down, when the time is right, I talk to them because they are then in a position to comprehend their foolishness.”

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How much do we really need?

Minimalism has always attracted me but will by necessity become central to my lifestyle from now on, if I am to survive what is to come… The word from my spiritual father was unequivocal this time. Life as I have known it will change drastically in the months to come: the little city hermit will constantly be on the move. Little did I know back to four years ago how prophetic this would be: “My Lifestyle – Suitcases, Lover of the Theotokos, Pilgrim, Traveller and a Little City Hermit. Belonging to Neither and Both.”

 

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“Since I am a leader, I often visit different places, in luxurious salons and houses, and then I remember the cell of elder Paisios, in which there was nothing.

Do you know what this “nothing” means? Absolutely nothing, in the truest sense of the word. Some boxes and old blankets that he had found and attached were his “sofas.” He said about them:

– I specially ordered these sofas from France, from Louis! – so he told us laughingly.

At first, when we went to him, since I was young, he said to me:

– For you, pop, I have a special chair, you sit there because it is special, and I hold it for official guests!

And what do you think it was? The box was covered with a blanket, and another blanket was nailed to the wall so that you would not be cold when you lean against it.

He had nothing, the icons were paper, inserted in cellophane, there was a stool instead of a table; The old man put a board on his knees and wrote on it. Poverty. He didn’t have anything, not because he couldn’t, but because he didn’t want it. If he wanted, he would be rich, a millionaire – if he wanted, but he did not want it. All his goodness was placed in one chest, where there was a little bean, simple rice and what was sometimes worn from monasteries: some dried fruit or Turkish delight, which he treated visitors to. No pans, nothing, that is, those things that for us are self-evident, were a luxury for him.

Once the old man prepared tea for one person – what do you think? In a canned food can. Remember, grandmothers once did that? He put a few pieces of grass into it and brewed tea, and then, when he poured it into another can, all the tea leaves fell out. The man went and bought him a sieve, and he said to him:

– But, my child, why did you bring it? Do we wish luxury now?

– Geronda, one tea strainer – is it a luxury? So that tea leaves do not get into tea … What is this luxurious?

And he answered:

– Why did you bring it? Now I will have to wash it, I will need a nail to hang it, a hammer to nail it, I will have to take care of it … Why do I need all this stuff? You take this your strainer, I do not need it, I do not want it.

Such simple things were a luxury to him. But I confess to you that I would exchange all the salons in the world for this cell, infinitely poor, modest, which, however, was full of God, even the dust in it – everything in it was filled with God.

I was told what some people from America had done: they went and took a rag, about which the elder wiped his shoes, before entering the cell, cut it into many pieces and distributed them to people, and they faithfully and reverently kept this rag , with which he wiped his feet, and miracles were performed. So you say to yourself: this is what God’s man means! Even the dust from his feet will be honored.

So who succeeded now? Whether the one who lived in the palaces and the memory of him perished, and it is unknown whether even children remember him — or this extremely poor, uneducated ascetic in the middle of the mountains, who, however, was filled with blessing from God with happiness, optimism, the former like a source from which happiness and joy exuded? And we all walked, like all suffering people, drank and were saturated with this water, flowing from this poor man, who often had nothing to eat.

I remember once, when I went to Thessaloniki, I bought some dry milk for the old man, because he had problems with his stomach, and brought him to him.

– What is it?

– Geronda, for your stomach! A little water and a spoonful of powder – and it turns out milk!

– Well, leave it over there!

After a year or two, I had to do something there and found a bag of milk in the same corner. He did not even open it, did not touch it. The way I bought it, so it was.

“Geronda blessed, did you leave it there?”

And he answered me:

– If I wanted it, I would have bought it myself! I did not ask you to bring it to me!

“I don’t have it, not because I can’t, but because I don’t want it, I decided that my life would be like that. If I wanted to, I could live differently. ”

This, naturally, I am not saying so that we imitate him, because, probably, in the world where we live, we don’t need and we can’t even do such things because of our obligations. But let our heart be free, wise, and we need to learn what matters in our lives: for ultimately only God matters.

You say: “I did not succeed in one thing, did not succeed in the other, did not become what I wanted.” Why do you want this? All this is transient, vain. Achieve what has value. Have you attained God? Do you have God in your heart? Do you have the expectation of the kingdom of God? That is what has value. And everything else – for a short time.

Well, add everything else, and what happened? Those who have should be as not having. You will not be with this for long, you will lose it, you will not have it all your life. Even the most expensive things, even they will not be with you in the hour of your difficulty. God is here Who will be with you always, you need Him, you need Christ. We will look for Him.”

Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol

The fire in Mati and St. Paisios

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It was the moment when the fire of 23rd July had completed its life-damaging work in Neo Vujza and Mati (about 7pm in the evening), and started spreading northeast to Agios Andreas where the children’s camps of the Municipality of Athens is located and southwest to Rafina.

Those present at the port of Rafina (where they had moved to escape the flames, including my brother) heard the bell in the chapel of Agios Nikolaos, located on a hill just above the harbour. The flames were already threatening the chapel. Some went to the chapel courtyard to see if there was a need for help.

Among them was a lady, and on the bench of the courtyard, she saw what looked like the form of a rallying priest who sat on the bench in the fumes and turned his body toward the flames. Impressed, she took a picture on her cell phone from a distance. Approaching, she took another one. But once she reached the bench, the figure disappeared unexpectedly and mysteriously into the smoke.

At that moment, the wailing stormy wind suddenly stopped blowing completely, so that the flames were not extended to the settlement of Rafina. A corresponding phenomenon, a sudden interruption of the wind that pushed the northeast flames, happened at the same time on the opposite side, at the boundary between Matio and St. Andrew. The result was to save the main settlement of Rafina and most importantly, save the area of ​​Agios Andreas where the camps were located.

It should be noted that 600 young children temporarily resorted to the beach of Agios Andreas whilst waiting for the buses to take them to Athens. The area of ​​Agios Andreas is overgrown with pine trees and with lush vegetation, just like Mattia. If the flames had reached this area, an incredible tragedy would unfold, much worse than what happened in Mati.

Note that the fire was expanding at an inconvenient speed, causing people to be trapped in the pass, unable to escape, not even by car. So, the dozens of unfortunate victims of the fire found in the beach at Mati were locked.

The lady, a few days later, visited Father Dorotheos, the Parish Priest of the Temple of the Assumption, the parish Church at Mati. She told him the incident with the priest who sat on the bench next to the chapel of St. Nicholas and showed him the pictures.

He first told her that this chapel does not have a priest and that he does not recognise any clergy in the face of the photos from those who serve in the wider region. In fact, he wondered what a priest can sit there among the wild fire and the smoke. But when he noticed the photographs better, he exclaimed with awe: “This is the face of Saint Paisios!”

The above story of this lady was narrated by Father Dorotheos to my brother, who lives next to the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

If you carefully look at the two photographs the lady took, it will distinguish a priest-monk who only wears a robe, holds a prayer rope in his hand and has his body turned towards the flames. The resemblance to Saint Paisios is astonishing. In the closest picture, the cap of Saint Paisios is distinguished in the head of the figure, while on the feet of this figure can be seen flip-flops with socks. Another characteristic of the Saint.

Nikos Koulouris
Professor of Law
2/9/2018

Source: from Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Parish and Community of Newcastle

A snake dying in the fire

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The man saw a snake dying in the fire, and decided to pull it out of the flame. When he did this, the snake bit him, causing unbearable pain. The man shook off the snake, and she fell into the fire again.

The man grabbed a metal pole, pulled the snake out of the flame and saved her life.

Some of the watchers approached the man and said: “This snake bit you, why are you still trying to save her?”

The man replied: “The nature of reptiles – to bite, but this should not change my nature – to help.”

Do not change your essence just because someone hurt you.
Do not lose your good heart, but learn to take precautions …

 

Source: Orthodox Parables and Stories

A few Saints Await

The little city hermit has started to take heart! So many prayers for him from all four corners of the world could not possibly go unheard! They have not been answered  in the way that he would have hoped — yet!– but this is a matter of least importance. Still in the dark, then, about a number of serious professional and family matters, the little city hermit is about to embark on a long pilgrimage across Greece and Romania, where a few Saints and spiritual elders await him for an “emergency treatment”:

St John the Forerunner in the Chalkidiki monastery of his spiritual father;

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St John the Evangelist and St Amphilochios in Patmos!

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And an elusive Romanian father Ioann, literally hiding in a North Romania hamlet, who has been praying about him for a long time, and a spiritual sister has made all necessary arrangements for them to meet at long last!

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Glory to God for all things! Even if no answers are to be disclosed in all these meetings, still so many blessings are under way!

Clay

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Clay robs clay.

Clay insults clay.

Clay slanders clay.

Clay gets rich at the expense of  clay.

Clay rules clay.

Clay punches clay.

Clay imprisons clay.

 

And in general:

Clay considers itself

wiser,

stronger,

richer,

nobler,

more valuable

to other clay.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Monastic Wisdom, Epistle 39

 

Agape and Philia Loves

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Lost in translation: Reflections on John 21:15-17 
 It is important to note that the first two times Christ inquires of Peter, “Do you love Me?” He uses a form of the word agape, which denotes the highest form of sacrificial and self-emptying love, the kind of love God has for man and that man can develop only through maturing in God’s grace. Each time, however, Peter is unable to claim such a lofty love.
When Peter answers, “You know that I love You,” he uses the term philo, which is a lesser form of love, akin to brotherly affection. When the Lord asks the third time, “Do you love Me?”He has changed to the term philo, condescending to Peter’s weakness and accepting whatever love Peter is able to offer. Nevertheless, Christ knows that Peter will develop agape love for Him, as Peter will eventually accept martyrdom for His sake (vv. 18, 19). Peter was grieved both that the Lord had to condescend to his level of love and that this was a clear, though gentle, reference to his three denials.

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15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

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Ὅτε οὖν ἠρίστησαν, λέγει τῷ Σίμωνι Πέτρῳ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Σίμων Ἰωνᾶ, ἀγαπᾷς με πλεῖον τούτων; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναί, Κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου. (Ιω. 21,15 )

λέγει αὐτῷ πάλιν δεύτερον· Σίμων Ἰωνᾶ, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναί, Κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. (Ιω. 21,16 )

λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Σίμων Ἰωνᾶ, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον, φιλεῖς με, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Κύριε, σὺ πάντα οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου. (Ιω. 21,17 )