The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 8

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Remember the little things #8

Dear Friends in Christ,

My “obedience” today was to trim the candles on the Holy Table and to clean the candlesticks.  Many of the faithful kindly bring beeswax candles back from Greece and Cyprus which, after being blessed, find their way into the Temple on the Holy Table and for the faithful to light on the candle-stands in front of the holy icons. 

Bees not content with giving us the sweetness of honey, give us a double blessing from their ascetic labour- they provide us with candle wax too.

It is a salutary lesson to observe the way the candle sacrifices itself, burning itself up in order to give light. 

Oh, that we were as productive as the bee and as selfless as the candle.

“Everything becomes more and more itself. Here is a joy that cannot be shaken. Our light can swallow up your darkness, but your darkness cannot now infect our light.” C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

 

The Candle

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men,

that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 

The candle shines warm with a tender glow 

Inviting prayers of saints in heaven from those below.

 

A living flame to energize the evening gloom

Bringing hope and faith from despair and doom.

 

Its fragrance is the gentle offering of the beeswax comb

Its warmth and light bring sweet comfort to our home.

 

How beautiful the issue of its martyrdom for others

Sharing its holy energy for our Christian brothers.

 

Remembering still when our swift prayers have ceased

The candle’s light endures, to celebrate the feast.

 

Tears of wax flow down and gently weep

For those who live and those who sleep.

 

The nimbus signs the Pentecostal flame

As a blessing to endorse the votive name.

 

Burning up itself the stiffened tallow

Shrinks to nothing save to hallow

 

That which is offered with its light

Prayers which give our dim eyesight.

 

So may we, who upon life’s rocks are hurled

Shine as lights in this dark world.

 

“God is a fire that warms and kindles the heart and inward parts.  Hence, if we feel in our hearts the cold which comes from the devil – for the devil is cold – let us call on the Lord. He will come to warm our hearts with perfect love, not only for Him but also for our neighbour, and the cold of him who hates the good will flee before the heat of His countenance. “

St. Seraphim of Sarov

The Coronavirus PhotoDiary of a little Hermit — 1

 

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst.

This diary of a Pustynnik started making me really observe and feel grateful for all these “little” things. Here are my three pics for today: a stunning view of Mount Olympus from Thessaloniki upper city, a crow bathing in a rain puddle and a baby cavalier which got lost and I helped walk back home.  Glory to God for all things! Please share your “little things”.

Day #1

crow bathing in rain puddlecavalier

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 8

feeding birds

Remember the little things  #8

I have been reflecting greatly upon the first miracle of Our Lord which took place in Cana of Galilee, when, as a guest at a wedding, He changed water into wine. (John 2:1-11) The sheer grace and magnitude of this sign left me reflecting on how we work miracles and show hospitality in lockdown mode?

 Yesterday I had a knock on the door and there outside were two parishioners kindly and most generously bringing me some household items. As they stepped back two metres, it gave me the opportunity to offer them some incense, charcoal, floats, wicks and candles for their worship at home. We exchanged some kind and encouraging words through the “Chapel “window and they left.

 I know others from our God blessed Community who also go to the help of the poor, shop for the housebound and enrich the lives of others by their invitation to join them with online fellowship. 

However, I must tell you I show hospitality to some winged secret” guests .” Angels maybe in the Divine services, but I am talking about feeding the birds. Each day I leave some morsels of bread or nuts on my garden wall but whilst my back is turned they swoop down and take that which is given! So no photos!

 We too can change bitter waters into sweet wine if we show compassion, kindness and meekness.

The poem which follows is dedicated to my dearly departed spiritual father who showed me great kindness and hospitality and whose meekness was beyond compare.

 

The Wedding Banquet

John2:2 “Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.”

 

In South Cambridge Newnham terraces*, a place of late Victorian Mews

Where once the Deans of Cambridge held romantic rendezvous;

There is greater love in West View, which is from the east and old

That issues forth from Cana where living streams bear gold.

Where once the Saviour graced a marriage and turned water into wine

His disciples now shelter others in the branches of His Vine.

Here dwells a confluence of Christian souls of hearts and constant minds

Since “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”

Such living streams of wisdom meander to a calm Bethesda pool

“Love never ends,” it is eternal for “Love is not time’s fool.”

“Love bears all things, believes all things hopes and endures all things”

Transcending any human love and in hands of angels brings

The indwelling of the Holy Guest with an invitation to the poor

To glimpse the wedding feast of the Father’s House through a simple terraced door.

 

“Oh, what great happiness and bliss, what exaltation it is to

address oneself to the Eternal Father. Always, without fail, value

this joy which has been accorded to you by God’s infinite grace

and do not forget it during your prayers; God, the angels and

God’s holy men listen to you.”

 

St. John of Kronstadt

*This poem refers to the home of my spiritual father and his Khouriya in Cambridge, England, and their enduring love.

My love and prayers,

Eν Χριστώ

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 7

lancaster night1

Remember the Little Things-  Day #7

After my midnight Jesus Prayer I looked out of my “Chapel” window at home and saw peeping through the clouds the moon and the stars. I was reminded of that beautiful Psalm:

Psalm 8:3-6 

3 When I consider your heavens,

    the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

    which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels

    and crowned them with glory and honour.

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

    you put everything under their feet.

lancaster night 2

God has crowned us with glory and honour and yet we often fail to give Him glory and dishonour him with our selfish greed. We fail to connect the vast beauty of creation with our Creator and we abandoned our responsibilities as stewards of this world in which He has placed us. We too often seek the riches of this passing world rather than the Great Treasure of Heaven. Wanting to be like God was the first sin in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:5)

Counting the Cost

Matthew 19:24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The little boy asked the man,” Why are you counting stars?”

“Because no-one else has done it, I started long ago with Mars.” 

“But what’s the purpose of your exercise?” the little boy enquired.

“I own them all!” the man exclaimed, “I’ll stop when I’ve retired.

“I’ve counted over five million, the sum of twenty years;

I count them silently each night so no-one ever hears.”

“They are not yours the boy replied, they all belong to God!”

But the man continued counting stars, pointing at them with a nod.

There are many who like this astronomic man, reap what they have not sown

Who count that which is not theirs and claim it for their own.

 The exercise of counting cash has equal futility,

After all, you cannot take it with you into eternity.

Far better spend your money wisely than buy expensive cars 

What a cost for those who ignore heaven and keep on counting stars!

 

“ Pride is darkness, but humility is light.” St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Eν Χριστώ

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 6

Antidoron

Remember the Little things- Diary of a Pustynnik

Each day before I say my morning prayers I take a little antidoron (Blessed bread) from the last Holy Liturgy we served together in Church. I soften it in some hot water and sometimes in wine and consume for the day’s blessing for all. I take another piece of antidoron and cut it, dividing it so I find that with the grace of God it begins to multiply.

Holy oil

I light a small lamp in my Icon corner next to the Holy Icons and Holy relics of the saints. Even though this is the smallest lamp I possess and I do not fill it completely with oil( there is water in it too) -it lasts for over eight hours. What a little wonder!

Day and night God increases this bread and this oil. Christ’s blessings come to us when we look unto Him who is the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

 

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The Main Mover

John 28:18: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

 

Grant my soul the wings to fly

Above the sun and starry sky

To move through infinity and climb

Through silent galaxies sublime

 

From earth to heaven

 

The Keeper of the kingdom praise

With virtuous hearts on high to raise

To seek the things which are above

Born of dust, infused with love.

 From earth to heaven

 

What work the Father made for glory

What hand that wrote Creation story

On the pages of history’s text

That moves from past to present and the next

 From earth to heaven

 

Then this middle earth will bow before

The Watcher over grace and law

When we strive to reach perfection

As the Way points out direction

 From earth to heaven

 

Our Eternal Master assigns vocations

Wrought in tasks and duties of complexions

Within the precincts of our earthly chains

Released from the cycled losses and the gains

 From earth to heaven

 

He who decides our earthly station

Determines too our destination

The wounded hands outreach to all

Extend the invitation call

From earth to heaven

 

JAH Based on the Hymn of Caedmon and the words of Father Porphyrios of Athos.

 

Christ is Everything. He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man joyful, makes him soar with happiness; makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ.

gallaxy

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. Christ is Everything. He is the source of life, the ultimate desire, He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ.

Saint Porphyrios

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustinnyk — 5

puddle

Dear Friends in Christ,

In these hard times, I have very little to offer you except my love and prayers and to inflict my poetry on you, a captive audience!!

Remember the Little things – diary of a Pustinnyk 

A little miracle happened this morning when my printer decided to fail and “go on strike.”I pushed various buttons at random but to no avail. The question mark on the printer display reflected my own state of perplexity! I was wondering how I was going to print the Akathist for Friday evening and thinking of possible alternatives? Well, the All-Holy Mother of God must have seen my anguish and came to my aid. On returning after prayers, I tried again and the printer worked perfectly. I am sure some with more technological skills will have a perfectly good explanation for how it came to work, but for me who is incompetent, my first recourse is to prayer. 

It set me thinking that the faith of little children is very simple even though they are computer literate; their questions are most perceptive and their observations often revelatory.

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The shadow of the wind

Matthew 21:16 And Jesus said to them,

’Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants,

You have perfected praise’?”

  

The little boy held his Grandad’s hand tightly in the driving rain.

He suddenly stopped and looked down and stared at the puddle before him.

His Grandfather anticipated some mischievous action from his little grandson.

Was he going to jump into the puddle and make a splash?

But no, the infant just stood there, looking intently into the puddle.

Then he looked up at his beloved elder, and with enquiring eyes asked:

“Grandad, are those ripples the shadow of the wind?”

His Grandfather was reduced to silence before such an observation and search for truth.

  

Lord, you breathed the breath of life into my body,

Let my heartstrings be tuned to your Holy Spirit

 my song of praise be the shadow of my soul,

and may I learn silence before your Word of Wisdom. Amen

  

A loving word never annoys. An arrogant word shall yield no fruit. You must pray all day and all night for the Lord to let your children avoid dangers. God is merciful!

Saint Theophan the Recluse

To the Glory of God

The Prayer of the Heart During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What is the “Jesus Prayer”, the “Prayer of the mind” and the “Prayer of the heart”?

Metropolitan Neofytos Morfou has gathered several  very short prayers that we can use in our everyday life, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic:

  1. “Great is the Name of the Holy Trinity.”
  2. “Most Holy Theotokos save us and put us under your protecting veil.”
  3. “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me/us”. 
  4. “Holy Cross of Christ save us through your power”. 
  5. “Great Archangel of our Lord Michael protect us”. 
  6. “Great Archangel of our Lord Gabriel illumine us”. 
  7. “Saint of God Nikiforos pray for us.” [Here any Saint can be invoked]
  8. “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your servants”.  The first time we add their Baptismal names, and then we continue “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your servants”.
  9. “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on all your world.”
  10. Then for the Departed, we pray to the Conqueror of Death: the first time “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your departed servants”, then we add their Baptismal names, and we conclude “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on your departed servants”, as many times as we can.
  11. “Lord Jesus Christ grant me the patience and faith of the Saints”
  12. “Lord Jesus Christ grant me the repentance and tears of the Saints”

The more we practice them the more they deepen and encompass our mind and heart:

“… Noetic prayer” (also called “the prayer of the mind”) and “the prayer of the heart” are just two special stages of the Jesus prayer.

God willing, if a person advances in prayer, then the prayer starts to “work”—that is to say, work alone, in the person’s “mind.” The person doesn’t make any effort anymore, but the prayer is said unceasingly by God’s grace, even if the person is speaking, eating, or even sleeping. When we say that the prayer is said in a person’s “mind”—that is, the “prayer of the mind” or “noetic prayer,” we say that the prayer is said in the rational aspects (parts) of the soul that is in the areas of logic and intellect (νούς), usually translated as “mind.”

If a person advances more, then God’s grace takes the prayer from the mind into the “heart”—that is, into the irrational aspects of the soul—the inflammatory aspect and the appetitive aspect.

Then, the “mind” and the “heart” become united—and the person will overcome the internal chaotic behaviour of his/her aspects, and will then reach a deep, peaceful power: joy and wisdom conferred by the Grace in the unity of their soul. …”

Source: The Ascetic Experience

Have your Bishops and Fathers suggested any other prayers to fight fear, acedia and binge-watching TV/ social media/internet? Metropolitan Morfou Neophytos has encouraged all of us to use these very short prayers together with the Lord’s Prayer, O Heavenly King, the Psalter and Supplications to our Saints.