On Martyrdom

christian-martyrs-alban.jpg

In the end, every soul will suffer martyrdom, to be saved. Either suffer martyrdom in one’s conscience or suffer martyrdom by giving one’s physical life, bearing witness unto death, literally shedding one’s blood. Until then though, until that soul reaches that point, somebody else will suffer martyrdom; some other people will suffer martyrdom before that soul, for that soul.

+ Elder Symeon Kragiopoulos of Blessed Memory

 

Advertisements

Why Some Priests Can Refuse to Be Spiritual Fathers

1988.06.15.-Vstrecha-s-mitr.-Antoniem.-05-1.jpg

“I want to say something which is not a commentary on the Gospel. Time and again, not only I but every priest is asked by someone or other to become his spiritual father. And many are troubled by the fact that all of us say no; this we can not do. This is beyond our strength. This is not a refusal to care; it is not a refusal to take upon our shoulders the lost sheep. No; it is an assertion that we can be your companions on the journey to the Kingdom of God but we ourselves are not mature enough to show you all the way. Each of us can say to those of you who come, “I have walked part of the road. I will be your companion on the road. And then, when we come to a point which I have not yet myself trod, let us walk together, following the only One who can be our guide; indeed, the only One who is not only our guide but our Saviour, who is the road itself, and the truth, and life.” And therefore, when you come to a priest in confession, open your hearts to him, or more truly to the Lord Jesus Christ in his presence, and he, according to the prayer which we read before confession will be the witness of your openness, sincerity, truth and repentance. He will listen to what you say to Christ. He will pray that Christ receives you as He receives every sinner — at the cost of His life and death. He will pray. And he will never forget either you or your confession. He will accept to be a martyr, not only a witness but carrying the pain, the horror, the suffering of the sins he can hear of. Everyone who comes to confession to a priest puts on his shoulders the burden of his own sins, and it is in compassion that the priest will for ever carry them before God. Therefore be content with the love, with the compassion, with the honesty of the priest to whom you come. Don’t ask him to do the impossible. If we go into the mountains we ask a guide who has gone all the way already and come back alive. None of us can say that we have gone all the way to the Kingdom of God and entered into it. We can only say, “We are on the way and we shall walk with you, share with you all our knowledge, support you at moments of weakness, do all we can for you to reach the Kingdom of God.” Who of us can say that he has? St Seraphim of Sarov refused to be the spiritual father of those who came. He promised to pray for them. He promised to hold them before God; and indeed his prayer was salvation. And in the Life of St Macarios of Egypt we hear that when he died a disciple of his, in a dream, saw the soul of St Macarios moving heavenwards; and the devils had set barriers on the way. And at each barrier they tested him on one or another sin. And he passed, free. And when he reached the gates of the Kingdom, the devils saw that at least one thing they can try to destroy him. At the very gate of the Kingdom they applauded him and shouted, “Macarios, you have conquered us.” And Macarios turned round, smiled, so his Life says, and said, “Not yet.” And only then did he enter into the Kingdom. This is far beyond anything we priests can do. But what we can do is to walk step by step with you, be a light to hold you before the face of God, and ask Him who is the way, who is the truth, who is life, who is our salvation, to be your guide, your way and your salvation. Amen.”

By

Source: The Catalog of Good Deeds

 

 

A sip of raki

raki.jpg

When one sins, he is heavy because of his selfishness. He can neither read nor pray because praying and kneeling seem daunting. Since then, you cannot pray, nor keep vigil, at least force yourself to study the Psalms. The Psalms express prayer, repentance, praise, thanksgiving, and contain feelings and experiences that can raise even the weakest man. Just like, when the other loses his senses, you give him a bit of raki, and you revive him, precisely so, read the Psalms, and they will resurrect you again.(Elder Aimilianos)

As a fruitful vine

st nektarios

St. Nektarios and his spiritual children. May he intercede for us!

From right to left: Blessed Xenia, the blind, first abbess of St. Nektarios’ monastery in Aegina; Saint Savvas the New of Kalymnos; St. Amphilochios Makris of Patmos; Konstandinos Sakkopoulos, a little city hermit and St. Nektarios’ ‘right hand’; Elder Daniel Katounakiotis; Elder Philotheos Zervakos; Elder Gervasios Paraskevopoulos.

 

The following depiction is in the Church of Saint Nektarios in Aegina:

elder gervasios
+ May they all intercede for us!

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

Contrition and Repentance

peter-denies-christ-bloch-carl_.jpg

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

… ” “