The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 43

mount athos ascetics

Huts of the hermits at Karoulia (Athos)

A poem, the Desert Fathers, C.S. Lewis reflection and The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

I live in an old stone faced terraced property, built in the 1850’s. Yesterday morning as I was cleaning the bay windows at the front of my house, I thought to myself: “the Victorians knew how to build things to last.” Some would argue that the Victorian period was the golden age of engineering and architecture in Britain. Even though my house is small and the consequence of a vast building programme because of the industrial revolution, it is built on firm foundations.

 

The Builder

 

Matthew 21:42

  Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:

 The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone,

This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

 

The Builder laid the living stones carefully and correctly;

Having mixed the cement of love, every stone had its special place.

Each was uniquely chosen and equipped

To support its neighbours of the human race.

 

There were apostolic and prophetic stones in the foundation.

They formed the base and shape of the temple.

Unseen, these sustained the saintly stones;

Rough hewn, finely crafted and simple.

 

Some builders today construct boxes

For the purpose of separation.

There are others who build Churches

To enable reconciliation.

 

The Father is building a Palace

No mortgage required and no loan,

 for us to live free in His mansions

With Christ as the Chief Cornerstone.

 


“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” 

C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity

 

*

Two old men lived together for many years and they had never fought with one another The first said to the other, “Let us have a fight like other men.” The other replied, ”I do not know how to fight.” The first said to him ”Look ,I will put my brick between us and I will say: it is mine; and you will reply: no, it is mine; and so the fight will begin.” So they put a brick between them and the first said,” This brick is mine,”and the other said,” No it is mine.”And the first replied, ”If it is yours ,take it and go.” So they gave it up without being able to find a cause for an argument.

Saying from The Desert Fathers

 

The Invisible Naked Ascetics of Mount Athos

 

 

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Baldness and the Comb

saint porphyrios

— What is ‘experience’ in spiritual life, dearest Father?

— A comb that you acquire when you go bald.

— So, isn’t it useless?

— No, because you can then use it to comb the hair of others!

Saint Porphyrios’ words; Testimony of Metropolitan Neophytos Morfou

 

*Photograph above: Saint Porphyrios venerated by bees ☦️🐝

In the region of Kapandriti near Athens, a wonderful thing happens. Ten years ago, a devout beekeeper named Isidoros Ţiminis, thought to place in one of his hives an icon of the Crucifixion of the Lord. Soon thereafter, when he opened the hive, he was amazed that the bees showed respect and devotion to the icon, having “embroidered” it in wax, yet leaving uncovered the face and body of the Lord. Since then, every spring, he puts into the hives icons of the Savior, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, and the result is always the same. He placed a photograph of Elder Porphyrios (before he was canonized) in the hive, and the bees showed the same respect and veneration as towards other saints. (Mystagogy Resource Center)

The Coronavirus Diary of a Joyous Pustinik — 30

icarus1
#Icarus 

 

Christ is Risen!

 

Being of a certain age, I often have to call upon one of my trusted “computer savvy techies” as they are known, to help me when my computer fails. I am hopeless when it comes to technology having been brought up with “chalk and talk”. So I would like to put a good word in for modern and ancient technology; for those who enable and help today and for the default reliability of books and pencils of ” yesterday”.

I see the great benefit of modern technology, particularly in these days of lockdown, but the internet is a Pandora’s Box. Information requires distillation and discernment if we are to sift the good from the bad. We have to know the boundaries and limits.  The fear of big brother and artificial intelligence is far removed from the fear of God and Divine illumination. Where are we, if and when this technology crashes? Back to pencils and books!

Although today most records in space are electronic, in the original space race, faced with the fact that ballpoint pens do not operate in zero gravity, a vast amount was spent on developing an alternative that would write in conditions experienced during space flight. Russia took the simple option of using pencils for recording data.

Some years ago I was able to help a rather concerned student in revision mode whose computer had a problem- the solution, a book on the precise academic subject he was studying. Glory to God, he passed his exam!

icarus2

Icarus

 

Ecclesiastes 1 

16 I communed with my heart, saying, “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

 

High flyers soar upwards to enthral 

Little knowing the sun’s own ire

“As wax melts before the fire”

So too “Pride comes before a fall.”

In Paradise we make our wings

And think escape so great, so smart

To ply our course in scientific art,

As in the tree a mocking bird sings.

Satan still whispers “bow to me”

“Be free!” and “all these kingdoms own.”

Whilst angels standing round the throne

Weep at feathers floating on the sea.

“Poor human reason, when it trusts in itself, substitutes the strangest absurdities for the highest divine concepts”  St John Chrysostom

God and the Geese

geese in a snowstorm.jpg

There was once a man who didn’t believe in God, and he didn’t hesitate to let  oth­ers know how he felt about religion and religious holidays. His wife, however, did believe, and she raised their children to also have faith in God and Jesus, despite his disparaging comments. One  snowy eve, his wife was taking their children to service in the farm community in which they lived. They were to talk about Jesus’ birth. She asked him to come, but he re­ fused. “That story is nonsense!” he said. “Why would God lower Himself to come to Earth as a man? That’s ridiculous!”

So she and the children left, and he stayed home. A while later, the  winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blizzard. As the man looked out the win­ dow, all he saw was a  blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening. Then he heard a loud thump. Something had hit the win­ dow. He looked out, but  couldn’t see more than a few feet. When the snow let up a little, he ventured outside  to  see what could have been beating on his win­ dow. In the field near his house he saw a flock of wild geese. Apparently they had been flying south for the winter when they got caught in the snowstorm and couldn’t go on. They were lost and stran­ded on his farm, with no food or shelter. They just flapped their wings and flew around the field in low circles, blindly and aimlessly. A couple of them had flown into his window, it seemed.

The man felt sorry for the geese and wanted to help  them. The  barn would be a great place for them to stay, he thought. It’s warm and safe; surely they  could spend the night and wait out  the  storm. So he walked over to the  barn and opened the doors wide, then watched and waited, hoping they would notice the  open barn and go inside.

But the geese just fluttered around aimlessly and didn’t seem to notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. The man tried to get their atten­tion, but that just seemed to scare them, and they moved further away. He went into the house and came  with some  bread, broke it up, and made a bread crumb trail leading to the barn. They still didn’t catch on.

Now he was getting  frustrated.  He got behind them and tried to shoo them toward the barn, but they only got more scared and scattered in every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where they would be warm and safe. “Why don’t they follow me?” he exclaimed. “Can’t they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm?”

He thought for a moment and real­ised that they just wouldn’t follow a hu­man. “If only I were a goose, then I could save them”, he said out loud. Then he had an idea. He went into barn, got one of his own geese, and carried it in his arms as  he circled around behind the flock of wild geese.

He then released it. His goose flew through the flock and straight into the barn; and one­by ­one, the other geese followed it to safety.

He stood silently for a moment as the words he had spoken a few minutes  earlier replayed in his mind: “If only I  were a goose, then I could save  them!”  Then he thought about what he had said  to his wife earlier.  “Why  would God want to be like us? That’s ridiculous!”

Suddenly it all made sense. That is what God had done. We were like the geese blind, lost, perishing. God had His Son become like us so He could show us the way and save us.

 

Story from the website of the Antio­chian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines