In the hollow of His Hand

PASCHA

The time has come again for the little city hermit to ‘disappear’. Holy Week church services demand all our being, preparations for a long pilgrimage to Greece are well under way and spring is beckoning! Should you wish to contact me, while ‘away’,  please send me a message here. Christ is Risen! May the Lord hold us in the hollow of His Hand until we ‘meet’ again! 

 

 

*traditional gaelic blessing

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Who am I in this crowd?

palm sunday

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Today Christ enters the path not only of His sufferings but of that dreadful loneliness which enshrouds Him during all the days of Passion week. The loneliness begins with a misunderstanding; the people expect that the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem will be the triumphant procession of a political leader, of a leader who will free his people from oppression, from slavery, from what they consider godlessness – because all paganism or idol-worship is a denial of the living God. The loneliness will develop further into the dreadful loneliness of not being understood even by His disciples. At the Last Supper when the Saviour talks to them for the last time, they will be in constant doubt as to the meaning of His words. And later when He goes into the Garden of Gethsemane before the fearful death that is facing Him, His closest disciples, Peter, John and James – whom He chose to go with Him, fall asleep, depressed, tired, hopeless. The culmination of this loneliness will be Christ’s cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Abandoned by men, rejected by the people of Israel He encounters the extreme of forsakenness and dies without God, without men, alone, with only His love for God and His love for mankind, dying for its sake and for God’s glory.

The beginning of Christ’s Passion is today’s triumphal procession. The people expected a king, a leader – and they found the Saviour of their souls. Nothing embitters a person so much as a lost, a disappointed hope; and that explains why people who could receive Him like that, who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, who saw Christ’s miracles and heard His teaching, admired every word, who were ready to become His disciples as long as He brought victory, broke away from Him, turned their backs on Him and a few days later shouted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” And Christ spent all those days in loneliness, knowing what was in store for Him, abandoned by every one except the Mother of God, who stood silently by, as She had done throughout her life, participating in His tragic ascent to the Cross; She who had accepted the Annunciation, the Good Tidings, but who also accepted in silence Simeon’s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart.

During the coming days we shall be not just remembering, but be present at Christ’s Passion. We shall be part of the crowd surrounding Christ and the disciples and the Mother of God. As we hear the Gospel readings, as we listen to the prayers of the Church, as one image after another of these days of the Passion passes before our eyes, let each one of us ask himself the question, “Where do I stand, who am I in this crowd? A Pharisee? A Scribe? A traitor, a coward? Who? Or do I stand among the Apostles?” But they too were overcome by fear. Peter denied Him thrice, Judas betrayed Him, John, James and Peter went to sleep just when Christ most needed human love and support; the other disciples fled; no one remained except John and the Mother of God, those who were bound to Him by the kind of love which fears nothing and is ready to share in everything.

Once more let us ask ourselves who we are and where we stand, what our position in this crowd is. Do we stand with hope, or despair, or what? And if we stand with indifference, we too are part of that terrifying crowd that surrounded Christ, shuffling, listening, and then going away; as we shall go away from church. The Crucifix will be standing here on Thursday and we shall be reading the Gospel about the Cross, the Crucifixion and death – and then what will happen? The Cross will remain standing, but we shall go away for a rest, go home to have supper, to sleep, to prepare for the fatigues of the next day. And during this time Christ is on the Cross, Christ is in the tomb. How awful it is that, like the disciples in their day, we are not able to spend one night, one hour with Him. Let us think about this, and if we are incapable of doing anything, let us at least realise who we are and where we stand, and at the final hour turn to Christ with the cry, the appeal of the thief, Remember me, Lord, in Thy Kingdom! Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh
THE LORD’S ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
1980, 30 March

The Mobile Phone of Saint Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva

By Nun Porphyria (Spyridoulas Moschou)
Because the Elder calls me on the phone every day from 4:00 to 6:00 in the morning and we read Matins, I thought that since the phone call is long-distance, he must be paying a lot of money to OTE [Hellenic Telecommunications Organization]. This is why when I got paid I put 50,000 drachmas in an envelope to give him.
“Elder, I brought some money, because your OTE bill must be big.”
“What are you talking about, foolish one? Here we are building a church and we’re gonna give so much money to OTE? Put it in the box we have for the building of the church.”
I put it in the box. But my thoughts kept telling me: It seems like OTE granted him a line of communication or someone else is paying for it.
“Lift me up. Give me my shoes to put on and tie them.”
He then took his cane and said to me: “Let’s go.”
I was surprised. As I held him I thought: Where are we going? We walked out of the balcony door and headed for the new building which was still a worksite. We went up some stairs and he showed me the new cells. He showed me the lightweight concrete that was being put as insulating material.
We then went up to a cell that had a built-in-bed where from the window was a view of the sea.
“Do you like it here?”
“Yes, it’s very beautiful, ascetical.”
“I love the ascetics very much. This is why my mind is constantly at Kavsokalyva, but they don’t let me go. One day I will go and stay there.”
We returned to the balcony door and I waited for him to want to lie down and rest. He proceeded however towards the entrance of the cell and said to me:
“Now we will go to the old cells that are empty.”
Outside at the corridor many people were waiting and they thought I was in his cell with him all this time. They were waiting for me to leave that they may come in. When they saw the Elder standing in the corridor, they lost it. For some of them it was the first time they saw the Elder standing up. They were shocked and ran to receive his blessing. We proceeded forward and went up to the second floor. The doors of the cells were shut.
“In this cell they have incense.”
I thought: Perhaps he smelled it. He read my thoughts and saw my lack of faith.
“Here they spread out washed wheat to grind it for prosphora.”
Again my thoughts told me: Well, wet wheat also has a certain smell.”
The Elder caught my thoughts again and said about the third cell:
“Here the toilet tank has rusted because we don’t pull on it to flush. Go pour a little water inside.”
Indeed, I opened the door and when I pulled on the toilet tank, the water came out rusted. So I thought: Rust doesn’t smell.
As we returned I heard him answer a telephone call from someone.
“Hello, Go ahead! Yes, yes, do it like that….”
He was giving advice to someone. But there was no telephone in his hands. It was just the two of us. I was motionless. How is he talking to someone without a telephone? I asked myself.
“Alright, hang up now, and come by some day so we can see you.”
He then said to me:
“See, foolish one. He had need of asking me something. He was calling me downstairs in my cell, but since I wasn’t there, I answered it here.”
Then I woke up. Then I understood that the Elder was not talking to me through OTE. He talked to me in a spiritual manner, which is why he told me to put the money in the box for the building of the church.
“Come on, let’s go now.”
Source: From the book Μαθητεία στον Άγιο Πορφύριο, έκδοση “Η Μεταμόρφωσις του Σωτήρος”, Μήλεσι, 2017. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Contrition and Repentance

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Peter denies Christ, Bloch Carl (1834-1890)

“Thinking of my own sinfulness brings the need for contrition (μεταμέλεια). We are not speaking yet about repentance (μετάνοια), but about contrition. Repentance is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God will give it to me. For example, you did something and then say “Oh no! What have I done? Why did I not listen to the Gerondas? Now I will have to hear the Gerondas’ admonition!” This is being contrite. But when I call you and tell you, “My child, what have you done?” If you confess your error and say “Punish me, Geronta!”, and I don’t punish you, but rather grant you to take Communion, you will say, “How good is Geronta! How I am and how he is! Look at the Grace of God! Oh my soul does not suffer to sadden God!” Now repentance begins. Contrition is one thing, repentance is another.’

Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra

… ” “

How The Departed Interceded For a Drunkard Priest

proskomidi

A Modern True Story

In Great Lent, a period of intensified prayer, the Church does not forget to pray for its departed children, because the driving force of prayer—love—overcomes all obstacles of time and space, not stopping even before the boundary of eternity, passing between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. The following instance that took place at the end of the twentieth century in one Greek diocese is a clear confirmation of this.

The bishop who told this story is still alive. It is genuine and has profound significance, because it speaks of the prayers of the living for the departed. God always hears these prayers, especially during the Divine Liturgy.

In the diocese of this bishop whom we have mentioned, there was a Papa Ioannis serving—a devout priest loved by all. He would somewhat linger during the proskomedia1 because he commemorated many names. But the priest had a terrible shortcoming: He loved to drink. As diligent as he was in the fulfillment of his priestly duties, so powerless was he before wine. Many implored him to overcome this passion, so unbecoming of a servant of God. The priest himself was aware of it, was furious with himself, and tried to quit drinking several times, although everything would start again within a few days.

Once, when this papouli2 had again surrendered to his passion, he went to church. Half-drunk, he exclaimed, “Blessed is the Kingdom…” and he began the Divine Liturgy. By God’s allowance, the priest slipped in the altar and dropped the Precious Gifts from his hands. He froze with horror! Dropping to the floor, he began to gather the Body and Blood of Christ with his tongue. He was choked with guilt, because it happened because of his intoxication.

The priest went to the bishop and confessed his terrible sin to him. The next day, the bishop, after much thought, sat down at the table and took a pen: He had to begin the process of defrocking Fr. Ioannis. The bishop’s hand was lingering in indecision when he beheld as if in a vision how thousands of people were coming out of the walls of the room. There was a burning pain in their eyes. Passing by the bishop, they cried out, “No, Vladyka, do not punish this priest! Do not defrock him! Forgive him!”

An endless stream of people passed in front of the bishop: men, women, children, well-dressed and poor—an entire demonstration of souls! And they all stretched out their hands to the bishop and cried out, imploring, “No, Your Grace, don’t do this; don’t expel our papouli! He remembers us and helps us at every Liturgy; he truly takes pity on us; he is our friend! Don’t remove him from his dignity! No, no, no!!!”

The vision continued for a long time. The stunned bishop watched the sea of faces pleading for the drunken priest. He realized that they were the souls of the reposed whom Fr. Ioannis commemorated at the Liturgy. And this commemoration greatly alleviates their lot, like water given to the thirsty in the summer heat. “This is a clear testimony that our prayers assuage the souls of the reposed,” the bishop thought.

He called for the priest.

“Fr. Ioannis, tell me, when you serve the Liturgy, do you commemorate a lot of names at proskomedia?”

“Hundreds of names, Your Grace. I haven’t counted them.”

“Why do you remember so many names and delay the Liturgy?” the bishop asked, as if angry.

“I pity the departed: They have no other help but the prayers of the Church. Therefore, I ask the Most-High to grant them rest. I have a book where I record all the names that are given to me for commemoration. I inherited this practice from my father, who was also a priest.”

“You do well,” the bishop agreed. “Their souls need it. Continue doing this. Just be careful, and don’t drink anymore—not a drop of wine, starting tomorrow! Such is your penance! You are forgiven.”

From that day, Fr. Ioannis was truly freed completely from the passion of drunkenness. And now he stands even longer at the proskomedia, commemorating the names of the departed.

From the book Miracles and Revelations of the Divine Liturgy, published by Paraclete Monastery (Oropos-Attica), 2012. Translated by Jesse Dominick

Pravoslavie.ru

 

1. The service of preparation before the Liturgy—Trans.

2. An affectionate term for a priest used by Greeks—Trans.

In the Womb

womb

A young couple once visited St. Gabriel (Urgebadze). The woman was pregnant. St. Gabriel blessed them and said, “My dears, be aware, a child understands everything, therefore read the word of God to him, so he will grow up properly from the very beginning.”

The husband was amazed by what St. Gabriel said and asked, “Yes, but Father, I don’t even understand what’s said through a half-closed door, so how will a child in the womb understand?”

St. Gabriel looked at the woman and addressed the child in his mother’s womb: “Hello baby, I ask you—do you hear the word of God?”

He had just finished saying it when the child began to move so much that the mother grabbed her stomach and couldn’t hide her emotions. Her husband, amazed and already believing what St. Gabriel had said, looked at his wife, astounded.