The Causes of Sorrows and Trials

trial.jpg

There are many causes which generate trials and sorrows in our life. Besides that, their combinations can be quite complex, so we are in a labyrinth of factors.

However we can distinguish four big categories of influence which will help us to avoid and protect ourselves from unwanted happenings in our life.

Sorrows Because of our Sins. When we sin, because the sin is an existential distortion, spiritual law will try to re-establish the equilibrium. If we will try by ourselves, through repentance, confession, and asking for forgiveness to fix our mistake, then sorrow will not come. Otherwise, it will happen after a certain time when it will be clear that we didn’t have an analogous repentance.

Blocking Trials. We make a plan and begin to follow it. However, we cannot see too much in advance. God, which knows everything, sees that in front of us is a deep tar pit, a trap which will harm us badly. That’s why He will allow a blocking trial to happen in order to close our path towards the trap. That’s why the Holy Fathers say, “When God closes a door, don’t break the doorknob”. You will repent of it after.

Advancing Sorrows. Someone can advance spiritually but (s)he cannot or (s)he doesn’t want and/or (s)he doesn’t know how to advance. In such cases, God gives us a trial, a sorrow, in which we will gain virtues like prayer, patience, humility, and other qualities upon which we will advance spiritually.

Trials for Example. Everyone is a sinner but there are times in which we don’t do such sins in order to trigger the spiritual law in a big degree. Even then, God might put us in a trial in order to be an example to follow, a light for others. We have here the classical example of Job in the Old Testament period. In the New Testament period, there is, firstly, the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and, after Him, a lot of saints.

Based on Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi, Saint Paisios the Athonite

Source: Ascetic Experience

Advertisements

Prayer for Difficult Times

eclipse

By Elder Sophrony of Essex

‘In difficult times, when all my efforts have failed to conform the events of my life towards the Gospel teaching, I would pray in the following manner:
“Come and make Yourself one with my will. Your commandments do not fit within my narrow heart, and my finite nous does not comprehend their content. If You are not well pleased to come and dwell within me Yourself, then I will inevitably be led towards the darkness. I know that You do not work through force, so I entreat You: Come and take charge of my house, and wholly renew me. Transform the hellish darkness of my pride into Your humble love. Transfigure with Your Light my corrupted nature, that no passion might be able to remain within me that would prevent Your coming with Your Father (John 14:21-23). Make me a dwelling place of that holy life which You Yourself have allowed me to taste of here in part…Yes, O Lord, I entreat You, do not deprive from me this sign of Your goodness.” ‘

*
Elder Sophronios’ prayer is so ‘Palamite’ ( +St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika the Wonderworker)

 “The first two years in his monastic habit, he spent with fasting, vigil, concentration of the mind and unceasing prayer. In his prayers he always evoke as intercessor the Mother of God and in every occasion he would ask for Her help. Once, when he was still and wholly surrendered to the thought of God, he saw in front of him a very venerable elder (St. John the Theologian). Turning at him with a gentle look, the elder said: ”I came my child, sent by the Most Holy and Queen of all to ask you, why every hour, day and night, you cry to God ‘…enlighten my darkness, enlighten my darkness …?” In reply, Gregory said: ”And what else shall I ask, me who am full of passion and sin, but to be shown mercy and be enlighten to see and do the Will of God?” Then the Evangelist told him: ”The Mistress of all – through me, her servant – commands that I should be your helper.” Then Gregory asked him: ”When will the mother of my Lord help me, now or after death?” ”Now and at the future life”, said the Theologian and disappeared, filling the heart of Gregory with unspeakable joy in regard to the promises of the mother of God.”

 The life of Saint Gregory Palamas Archbishop of Thessalonika the Wonderworker by Philotheos, Patriarch of Constantinople

 

 

How to Make a Good Confession

sacramentconfession

A parish retreat (homily & QA session) entitled “Orthodox Spirituality” by. Alexey Young (now Hieroschemamonk Ambrose) (video transcript). Fr. Alexey was a spiritual child of Fr. Seraphim Rose,

We often wonder how often we should go to confession. The answer is simple—whenever you have a serious sin on your conscience. Examine your conscience and beg God to show you’re your faults; if you don’t know who you are then you don’t know what Christ came to save you from. This can be a difficult process, but a necessary one. Such study reveals our self-love by which we blind and deceive ourselves.

Our sins offend the Almighty God. He wants to forgive us and share His mercy. We must be satisfied not just with avoiding serious sins, but even the smallest, in an ongoing striving for holiness. Our sins cause ourselves and others unhappiness—why would we want this?!

St. John of Kronstadt says that if you live just one day in obedience to all the commandments then you’ll have a foretaste of Heaven. Once we know and detest our faults we can begin to replace them with virtues, but know that this won’t happen all at once. Be the simple, difficult, weak creature that you are, and start small—to try to stop sinning all at once is actually a manifestation of pride. Start with the baby milk of spiritual struggle before moving on to the strong wine.

How should we examine our conscience? You should do this daily, taking time at night to reflect. You can use the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and so on, as a guide. My spiritual father, Fr. Seraphim Rose, taught me to consider: How have I sinned against God? against my neighbor? and against myself?

Through examining our conscience we begin to discover what is our predominant passion(s)—that sin we fall into most frequently, which tries to master us. This can be the love of ease, love of power, complaining, judgmentalism, and so on. One of the worst things that can happen to us if when someone asks our advice, so we give “learned advice,” but in the end they don’t follow it and we get very upset.

To overcome vice we must practice the opposing virtue. The Ladder of Divine Ascent is a great help in this regard. St. John Climacus analyzed each virtue and vice as a master of psychology, seeing cause-effect relationships in a theocentric framework. Identify your predominant vice, locate its opposite virtue and begin to cultivate it. Simply avoiding vice won’t work because then the passion will simply be replaced with other passions. If we do this we will see that the spiritual life works! We don’t like anyone to point out our faults, but in actuality we need our spiritual father to do this.

We each have our predominant virtue too. Studying and practicing this tends to draw the other virtues along with it. We can overcome vice by practicing the presence of God, by beginning to develop an awareness that at all times we are in the presence of God and He observes us. The icon corner serves this purpose. It is a two-way window to Heaven. Before doing or saying anything, think to yourself: “Would I do this in Church in front of the altar?” If the answer is “no” then don’t do it. Church is the place par excellence where we come into God’s presence and receive Him.

The Theotokos practiced the presence of God more perfectly than anyone else. Her virtues grew and she thus had a powerful influence on other people. People were made better by her mere presence.

The predominant passion is pride; it is the mother of all sins. Its opposite is humility. No soul can have any holiness without some humility, and yet pride will lurk in our darkest recesses our whole life. Adam and Eve fell because they listened to the serpent and thought that they knew better than God. This is pride, and now most of us follow two masters—a little pride and a little humility. Pride is the love of self, the beginning of all sin, and the neglect of the fact that we depend on God for everything.

What separates us from death is so little. Our lives are very fragile, and pride places us in opposition to God because by it we work only for our own glory.

Pride places false regard on the opinion of others, and of ourselves, when the what you think matters more than what God thinks. It is also manifested as desiring a good reputation—to be thought well of, to be honored—and this is a great temptation for priests, with people looking for the latest guide or guru. A priest must do everything to remain humble about what people say. Actually, criticism against a priest is a blessing to keep him humble, which is in turn good for the whole parish. Pride is also seen in being overbearing towards others, insulting or critiquing others, being argumentative, and getting angry easily.

The Holy Fathers give us the antidote for going from vice to virtue. The spiritual life is a science, not an art form. Most of us aren’t so spiritually talented so we need laws and cause and effect in order to learn the spiritual life. St. John Climacus says that the antidote for pride is prayer. Identify where the pride is in your life and ask for strength against it. Human effort can do very little. We must realize that everything depends on God. In prayer we make use of God’s grace, and then we can do almost anything—we can move mountains!

Pride can also be turned into humility by acts of humility, and especially by accepting humiliations. If someone criticizes you, even unfairly, if someone insults you or talks about you behind your back, instead of becoming defensive, accept it! This cheerful bearing of small failures on the part of ourselves and others is bearing one another’s burdens (see Gal. 6:2). It is important to bear the misunderstandings of others without complaint or self-justification. All too often we’re prone to excuse ourselves and urge our opinions on others. When we learn to accept the humiliations that come our way then we’re learning to be humble. As pride is the mother of all sins, humility is the mother of all virtues.

 Another serious vice is avarice, which is the opposite of detachment and denunciation. It is the desire for many goods, for power over people, and so on. This passion is combated by cultivating a spirit of generosity. The Lord’s command to give up your coat is quite literal (Mt. 5:40). St. John Maximovitch would often come back practically naked because he had given his clothes away to the poor and starving. St. John of Kronstadt did the same. You don’t have to give away everything, but we should strive to not possess our possessions with our heart. We can have the spirit of poverty even if we aren’t poor—only buying what is absolutely necessary.

There was a German Lutheran pastor named Richard Wurmbrandt who was a prisoner of Romanian and Russian Communists. When asked how he could manage solitary confinement he answered that he had had practice beforehand. He suggested that Americans with much wealth go into a store where they have no intention of buying anything, and every time they see something they like, they should go up to it, look at it, and say “I don’t need this.” Do this repeatedly and you train yourself to be detached from worldly goods. He realized that who he is isn’t dependent on what he owns, whereas most of us really do define ourselves by what we surround ourselves with.

The Desert Fathers had a Psalter and a vigil lamp and that was it, and they were free and belonged to God.

Cultivate generosity and have a spirit of detachment. You can practice this by not using credit cards. We live in a world where it’s possible with a little imagination and a credit card to create an environment straight out of another time, such as colonial America, Tudor England, and so on. Never before was this possible. There’s something very abnormal about it when you think about it. Let’s just live simply and love and care for one another and use our blessings to care for the Church, for the poor, and so on.

We need a spirit of detachment from people too. You can have affections that are not immoral but simply too strong. Don’t define yourself in terms of other people. The spirit of Christian poverty allows for what is genuinely needed, but don’t go out and get something just because someone else has it. Of course detachment doesn’t mean laziness, dirtiness, slovenliness, chaos, carelessness, or anything less than orderly and clean—this is a form of self-love. Christian poverty isn’t stinginess—this is avarice.

Possession can be a passion that spreads even to things not worth keeping. Avarice regrets that you don’t have what others have. Avarice is stinginess. When you give to a beggar it’s for you. It’s not so much for the beggar—if you’re not willing to give that tells you something about yourself. We cannot rest in our diligence—there is always some way there for avarice or pride to creep in. And the antidote to avarice is prayer.

What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of His soul—put this in a frame in your house!

Regarding lust, we are taught that the clean of heart shall ascend the mountain of the Lord and see God, which refers to modesty and chastity according to our state in life, not just big things like fornication and adultery, although Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God is specifically about sexual sins. Our culture is awash in a cesspool of immorality and lust, dominating every aspect of our entertainment, commerce, and so on, but Christ encouraged chastity and celibacy amongst His disciples.

Even seemingly “innocent” things need more discipline, such as too much hugging in churches. For instance, monks and nuns don’t hug—they greet one another with a kiss of peace. I never hugged my spiritual father, Fr. Seraphim, but we loved one another. Of course, hugging is not an awful thing, but what I’m talking about is part of a general looseness of our culture, with looseness of dress, especially in Church, and so on. We see women in church in pants, men in shorts, women with uncovered heads—there was a time when this would never have happened.

If we had tea with the Queen we’d wear our absolute best, but we walk into Church with the Almighty God as if we’ve just come from a picnic. We need to rekindle the higher standard. Men shouldn’t wear short sleeves, or shorts, or pants that are too tight, and you don’t need a tie, which St. John called a noose.

You can combat lust by fasting. St. John of Climacus says in his Ladder of Divine Ascent that gluttony is the mother of many sins, particularly lust. If you struggle with lust you can begin fasting with the lessing of your spiritual father, beyond the fasts of the Church even. If you fast you will find that lustful temptations go away.

We need to learn how to guard our eyes. Monastics know not to look all around—keep your eyes on where you’re going. In photos of the saints we see that often they are not looking directly into the camera; they learned to discipline their eyes so that what comes into the soul via the eyes would not harm them. In the evening prayers we ask for forgiveness if we have seen anyone and been wounded thereby in our hearts. We seek to control our minds too, in disciplining the imagination, day-dreaming, curiosity, and so on.

The antidote for lust is prayer. The spiritual life is a constant battle that will end only at our death. We battle not against flesh and blood, but against the fallen angels (see Eph. 6:12). Examine your conscience, identify your predominant virtue and vice and seek the guidance of a spiritual father. The soul is a garden, though often choke with the weeds of the vices. Our task is to learn how to pull out the weeds one-by-one and plant flowers of virtue.

Question: If you’re on the path but still have passions will you see the Kingdom of Heaven?

Answer: We must make sure that we’re really on the path. We often delude ourselves into thinking we’re on the path when we haven’t actually repented. We don’t have to achieve absolute perfection, but we need some victory that shows our heart.

Question: Surely we can’t give to everyone who asks or we’ll go broke.

Answer: We are called to give but we do need to be discerning. Of course we need to keep some money to provide for our families, to give to charitable organizations, and so on.

Question: What is the difference between self-respect and self-love?

Answer: Some have the special grace to stay in and redeem abusive situations, but this is very rare—it’s almost like martyrdom.

We must be very careful about this, as our culture tells us we’re just a little higher than animals, or even less worthy than animals. We see people saving whales but not babies. Until 150 years ago we believed we were a little lower than the angels, and people tend to live up or down to the image they are given of themselves.

We must work with people very carefully to give them self-respect that isn’t pride. Self-respect comes from being made according to the image of God and knowing that He redeemed us. We should not define ourselves by other people.

Question: How can we safeguard ourselves to keep a healthy balance? Is it a sin to decorate your house and things like that?

Answer: We have the responsibility as good stewards to make a pleasing environment, but we should use common sense about how much money we spend. Of course there are those who have lovely homes but are also very generous. Such questions are on a case-by-case basis.

We have to surround ourselves with beauty—that is a Christian virtue.

The Eagle and the Rooster

Elder Iakovos – Holy Monastery of St. David Euboea (Documentary)

Very important documentary about the sacred and blessed life of Elder Iakovos, the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. David in Euboea Island in Greece. 

Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia canonized by Constantinople,
 November 27, 2017
According to exclusive information from the Greek-language Orthodox site Romfea, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate resolved today to officially number the blessed Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia among the saints of God.(Original Greek-English Subtitles)

 

 

By Dr. Haralambos M. Bousias,
Great Hymnographer of the Church of Alexandria

The venerable Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, the admirable Abbot of the Monastery of the Venerable David in Evia, was a long-range star who shined in our days with the rays of his simplicity, his goodness, his equal-to-the-angels state and his numerous wonders.

Elder Iakavos was the personification of love, a living embodiment of “the new life in Christ”, a projector of virtue and a mirror of humility and temperance.

He embodied and experienced the testament of grace and delighted all those who approached him, since he was entirely the “fragrance of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15). With his sweet words he gave them rest and conveyed to them the good things of the Holy Spirit, “joy, peace and gentleness” (Gal. 5:22), with which he was gifted, affirming the Gospel phrase: “Out of the abundance of the heart the tongue speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

Elder Iakovos was a spiritual figure of the Monastery of the Venerable David, sent by the philanthropic Lord to the modern lawless Israel and admonished them with the example of his simple yet venerable life and the grace of his words which were always “seasoned with salt” (Gal. 4:6). The Elder was not very educated, but he was overshadowed, like the fishermen of Galilee, with the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, making wise the unwise and moving the lips of those chosen by God to spiritually guide the people to salvation.

Elder Iakovos was born on November 5, 1920 to pious parents, his mother Theodora being from Livisi in Asia Minor and his father Stavros from Rhodes. In early 1922 Turkish cetes captured his father and led him deep into Anatolia.

After the catastrophe of our blessed Asia Minor, which was allowed by God for our sins and apostasy, the family of the Elder followed the hard road of exile. Their ship transferred them over to Itea and from there they settled in Amfissa.

There it pleased the Lord, in 1925, for his father to find them and together as a family they moved to Farakla in Evia.

At the age of seven the young divinely-illumined Iakovos memorized the Divine Liturgy even though he was illiterate. In 1927 he attended elementary school and was distinguished for his performance and his obvious love for the Church and sacred writings.

The appearance of Saint Paraskevi to the young Iakovos and the revelation of his brilliant ecclesiastical future stimulated the faith and piety of the young student.

Often the purity of his life led him to pray for his suffering countrymen, whom he would heal by reading prayers that were irrelevant to their situation, but he did it with much devotion showing to all that the “grace of God was on him” (Lk. 2:40).

In 1933 he completed elementary school, but the financial difficulties of his family did not allow him to continue his studies. So he followed his father in his manual work.

Impressed by his melodious chanting the Metropolitan of Halkidos consecrated him a Reader.

What impressed everyone was his ascetic life, his prayerful disposition, his love for work, his lack of sleep, and his strict observance of the fasts.

In this voluntary personal deprivation he came to add the involuntary suffering of the whole family and that of all the hapless refugees from the dispossession.

In July of 1942 the mother of the Elder died, foretelling his future as a priest. He joined the army in 1947, where he remained undaunted by the derision of his colleagues, who jokingly called him “Father Iakovos”.

However, he received admiration from his commander, who was among the few that sensed the future bright spiritual path of the young refugee.

After being released from the army in 1949, Iakovos, at the age of 29, was orphaned also of a father. His focus was on his sister, without, however, neglecting the thoughts of his childhood desire to enter the monastic state.

After his sister married, in November of 1952 he went to the Monastery of the Venerable David near Rovies, fulfilling his desire of completely dedicating his life to God. At the age of 32 Iakovos was tonsured a Monk, and on December 19, 1952 he was ordained a Priest in Halkida by Metropolitan Gregory.

He then continued his ascetic life in the Monastery, with concerted prayer in the cave of the Venerable David, with divine visions and miracles, which increased over time.

He achieved high measures in virtue and suffered many attacks from good-hating demons, who hated his equal-to-the-angels life.

He often saw and spoke with Venerable David and Saint John the Russian, while he was also made worthy of the gifts of foresight and insight.

Often during the Divine Liturgy he would see Angels serving him in the Sacred Altar, Cherubim and Seraphim encircling him covering their faces with their six wings, revering the slain Lamb, the God-man Jesus, on the Holy Paten, broken but not divided, forever eaten yet never consumed.

In August of 1963 in a wondrous way he satiated with three kilos of noodles 75 laborers with generous servings with half a pot of leftovers.

On the 25th of June in 1975 he became the Abbot of the Monastery and held this rudder firmly until his venerable repose on the 21st of November in 1991.

Due to his hermit and ascetic life, however, the health of the Elder was shaken, the veins of his legs rotted, and he had to undergo surgeries for his hernia, his appendix, his prostrate and his heart, even being placed within him a pacemaker.

From 1990 onwards his strength began to leave him. In September of 1991 he was hospitalized at the General State Hospital of Athens for a small infarction.

When he returned to the Monastery he suffered from inflammation, which, unfortunately, turned into pneumonia. He sensed his end.

The morning of November 21, 1991 he followed the Service for the Entrance of our Theotokos, he chanted and he communed of the Immaculate Mysteries.

After confessing some of the faithful he took a walk around the Monastery. In the afternoon he confessed a spiritual daughter of his and waited for the return of his novice Iakovos from Limni, who that day was ordained a Deacon by the Metropolitan of Halkidos.

As soon as the fathers arrived the Elder tried to get up, but became dizzy. His breathing became heavy, his pulse weakened and from his lips came a soft blow.

The Elder took the road to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The people who were informed of his funeral were few.

The phones, however, took fire and from one person to another the sad news spread.

The next day thousands of people flocked to the Monastery, clergy of all ranks and spiritual children of the Elder from all over Greece, who came to give their last embrace.

The courtyard of the Monastery was crowded. The funeral service was chanted outdoors and after his sacred body was processed around the Katholikon. During the procession many of the faithful saw the Elder get up from his coffin to bless the crowd.

Once the sacred body descended into the grave, with one voice the thousands of faithful with resurrection hymns and resurrection bells joyfully cried out: “Saint! Saint!”

Since then Elder Iakovos, with his dozens of posthumous miracles, has been classified in the souls of the faithful as a Saint, by those who await with longing his formal canonization by the Mother Church.

Translated By John Sanidopoulos

Source: Orthognosia

Monastery of Saint David the Elder (II)

img_0127

A Vigil 

img_0126

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis was one of the most important and saintly personalities of our day, a great and holy Elder. He was a vessel of grace, a living incarnation of the Gospel, a dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit and a true friend of God. From early childhood his aim was sanctification, and he enjoyed praying and would go to different chapels, light the icon-lamps and pray to the saints. In one chapel in his village, he was repeatedly able to speak to Saint Paraskevi. He submitted to God’s call, which came to him when he was still a small child, denied himself and took up the Cross of Christ until his last breath. In 1951, he went to the Monastery of Saint David the Elder, where he was received in a miraculous manner by the saint himself.

He was tonsured in November 1952. As a monk he submitted without complaint and did nothing without the blessing of the abbot. He would often walk four to five hours to meet his Elder, whose obedience was as parish-priest in the small town of Limni. The violence he did to himself was his main characteristic. He didn’t give in to himself easily. He lived through unbelievable trials and temptations. The great poverty of the monastery, his freezing cell with broken blinds and cold wind and snow coming in through the gaps, the lack of the bare essentials, even of winter clothing and shoes, made his whole body shiver and he was often ill. He bore the brunt of the spiritual, invisible and also perceptible war waged by Satan, who was defeated by Iakovos’ obedience, prayer, meekness and humility. He fought his enemies with the weapons given to us by our Holy Church: fasting, vigils and prayer.

img_0077

 His asceticism was astonishing. He ate like a bird, according to his biographer. He slept on the ground, for two hours in twenty-four. The whole night was devoted to prayer. Regarding his struggle, he used to say: ‘I do nothing. Whatever I do, it’s God doing it. Saint David brings me up to the mark for it’.

His humility, which was legendary and inspiring, was his main characteristic. The demons which were in the possessed people who went to the monastery cursed him and said: ‘We want to destroy you, to neutralize you, to exterminate you, but we can’t because of your humility’. He always highlighted his lack of education, his inadequacies and his humbleness. It was typical of him that, when he spoke, every now and again he’d say: ‘Forgive me’. He was forever asking people’s forgiveness, which was a sign of his humble outlook. Once, when he was invited to visit the Monastery of Saint George Armas, where the abbot was the late Fr. George Kapsanis, he replied: ‘Fathers, I’m a dead dog. What will I do if I come to see you? Pollute the air?’ He always had the sense that he was a mere nothing.

And when he became abbot he always said that he wasn’t responsible for what happened in the monastery: ‘Saint David’s the abbot here’, he maintained. When he served with other priests, he went to the corner of the altar, leaving them to lead the service. When they told him: ‘This isn’t right, you’re the abbot of the monastery’, he’d reply: ‘Son, Saint David’s the abbot here’.

 

img_0124

Although he didn’t seek office, he agreed to be ordained to the diaconate by Grigorios, the late Bishop of Halkida, on 18 December 1952. The next day he became a priest. In his address after the ordination, the bishop said: ‘And you, son, will be sanctified. Continue, with God’s power, and the Church will declare you [a saint]’. His words were prophetic. He was made abbot on 27 June, 1975, by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkida, a post he held until his death.

As abbot he behaved towards the fathers and the visitors to the monastery with a surfeit of love and understanding and great discernment. His hospitality was proverbial. Typical of him was the discernment with which he approached people. He saw each person as an image of Christ and always had a good word to say to them. His comforting words, which went straight to the hearts of his listeners, became the starting-point of their repentance and spiritual life in the Church. The Elder had the gift, which he concealed, of insight and far-sight. He recognized the problem or the sin of each person and corrected them with discretion. Illumined by the Holy Spirit he would tell each person, in a few words, exactly what they needed. Saint Porfyrios said of the late Elder Iakovos: ‘Mark my words. He’s one of the most far-sighted people of our time, but he hides it to avoid being praised’.

In a letter to the Holy Monastery of Saint David, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Vartholomaios, wrote: ‘Concerning the late Elder, with his lambent personality, the same is true of him as that which Saint John Chrysostom wrote about Saint Meletios of Antioch: Not only when he taught or shone, but the mere sight of him was enough to bring the whole teaching of virtue into the souls of those looking at him’.

img_0123

He lived for the Divine Liturgy, which he celebrated every day, with fear and trembling, dedicated and, literally, elevated. Young children and those with pure hearts saw him walking above the floor, or being served by holy angels. As he himself told a few people, he served together with Cherubim, Seraphim and the Saints. During the Preparation, he saw Angels of the Lord taking the portions of those being remembered and placing them before the throne of Christ, as prayers. When, because of health problems he felt weak, he would pray before the start of the Divine Liturgy and say: ‘Lord, as a man I can’t, but help me to celebrate’. After that, he said, he celebrated ‘as if he had wings’.

One of the characteristic aspects of his life was his relationship with the saints. He lived with them, talked to them and saw them. He had an impressive confidence towards them, particularly Saint David and Saint John the Russian, whom he literally considered his friends. ‘I whisper something in the ear of the Saint and he gets me a direct line to the Lord’. When he was about to have an operation at the hospital in Halkida, he prayed with faith: ‘Saint David, won’t you go by Prokopi and fetch Saint John, so you can come here and support me for the operation? I feel the need of your presence and support’. Ten minutes later the Saints appeared and, when he saw them, the Elder raised himself in bed and said to them: ‘Thank you for heeding my request and coming here to find me’.

img_0125

One of his best known virtues was charity. Time and again he gave to everybody, depending on their needs. He could tell which of the visitors to the monastery were in financial difficulties. He’d ask to speak to them in private, give them money and ask them not to tell anyone. He never wanted his charitable acts to become known.

Another gift he had was that, through the prayers of Saint David, he was able to expel demons. He would read the prayers of the Church, make the sign of the Cross with the precious skull of the saint over the people who were suffering and the latter were often cleansed.

He was a wonderful spiritual guide, and through his counsel thousands of people returned to the path of Christ. He loved his children more than himself. It was during confession that you really appreciated his sanctity. He never offended or saddened anyone. He was justly known as ‘Elder Iakovos the sweet’.

img_0071img_0072

He suffered a number of painful illnesses. One of his sayings was, ‘Lucifer’s been given permission to torment my body’. And ‘God’s given His consent for my flesh, which I’ve worn for seventy-odd years, to be tormented for one reason alone: that I may be humbled’. The last of the trials of his health was a heart condition which was the result of some temptation he’d undergone.

He always had the remembrance of death and of the coming judgement. Indeed, he foresaw his death. He asked an Athonite hierodeacon whom he had confessed on the morning of November 21, the last day of his earthly life, to remain at the monastery until the afternoon, in order to dress him. While he was confessing, he stood up and said: ‘Get up, son. The Mother of God, Saint David, Saint John the Russian and Saint Iakovos have just come into the cell’. ‘What are they here for, Elder?’ ‘To take me, son’. At that very moment, his knees gave way and he collapsed. As he’d foretold, he departed ‘like a little bird’. With a breath like that of a bird, he departed this world on the day of the Entry of the Mother of God. He made his own entry into the kingdom of God. It was 4:17 in the afternoon.

His body remained supple and warm, and the shout which escaped the lips of thousands of people: ‘Saint! You’re a saint’, bore witness to the feelings of the faithful concerning the late Elder Iakovos. Now, after his blessed demise, he intercedes for everyone at the throne of God, with special and exceptional confidence. Hundreds of the faithful can confirm that he’s been a benefactor to them.

img_0078

img_0074

img_0080

img_0079

img_0076

img_0073

Source: Pemptousia, “The Elder of love, forgiveness and discernment” by  Alexandros Christodoulou

For more information about the monastery and St. David, go here 

Saint Irene Chrysovalantou monastery in Northern Evia

ευβοια1
Euboia pilgrimage . Our first stop is the Monastery of Saint Irene Chrysovalantou, a Metochion of the Monastery of Saint George in Ilia, which in 1990 split off and formed another Sisterhood under the Abbess Chrysovalanti. It is built above the Camp of the Metropolis that draws over 800 children a year, between the coastal villages of Rovia and Ilia, and it stands with the serene Gulf of Evia in front of it and Mount Valantion behind it.
Besides the Church of Saint Irene, the Monastery has two other chapels: Saint Onouphrios the Ascetic who celebrates on June 12th, and Saint Job the Much-Suffering who celebrates on May 6th.
img_1559ευβοια2
The chapels are decorated with wonderful Byzantine frescoes. In the grove of the Monastery is the renovated old Church of the Archangel Michael, a former Monastery of Ilia, which is celebrated on November 8th. The Holy Archangel is considered the patron saint of the region, and it has taken its name from him (Taxiarchis Ilion).
img_3771
A large central Church of Saint Irene does not yet exist, because the small numbered Sisterhood (1 Abbess and 2 Nuns) does not have the financial ability to complete the unfinished Monastery.

 

It is worth noting that this Monastery is the first dedicated to Saint Irene Chrysovalantou that follows the New (Revised Julian) Calendar.

 

 

img_9040
The views are stunning!
img_4416
img_4813
The monastery is renowned for its hospitality and Abbess Chrysovalanti.
img_0216
St. Iakovos Tsalikis presence is made felt in all Euboia, after his recent glorification.
img_2831img_7412img_2413