When Anger Hurts …

prayer

… As if ever, our anger is a good one …

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“Do you think, my child, that I don’t know how to speak out? I know but I think of the result.” (St Nicholas Planas on restraining anger)

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May I ask for your prayers as I am really struggling to juggle all my new obediences, jobs and job applications because of Brexit?

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These Eyes


+ Maria, Μαρία Χατζηθανάση- Σοφικίτη, mother of 10 children, aged between 22 years and 2 months old, a  midwife, ‘lost her life’, suddenly and unexpectedly, in a fatal car accident, on her way back home from her work. (What a beautiful face!!! Like the Ierosolymite Theotokos)
In a prophetic conversation with a priest, who prefers to stay anonymous, just 2 weeks ago, Maria had told him that she had asked her elder children what they would say to the younger ones if she got hit by a lorry and die: “Will you tell them that mom got killed or that mom went to Heaven?” . She also added that even if this happened, she would not worry about her 10 children, because our Heavenly Father would best protect and care for them.
Blessed Maria, when asked why they had 10 children, she said that initially they only had 5 in mind with her husband, but with every new child and all the blessings each child  brought to the family, they kept changing their mind and finally decided to have as many children as God would send them!
+Memory Eternal! +21 June. Our prayers to her husband Spyridon and her 10 little angels, all in white in the funeral. All my friends from Greece are telling me that this was the most resurrectional funeral they have ever attended in their lives! 10,00 faithful chanting “Christ is Risen!” The funeral took place at St. Porphyrios’ the Kapsokalyvite church  of Milesi, in Oropos. +Christ is Risen!
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The Precious and Life-Saving Cross (Sts Isidoros, Likavittos). One miracle of many happening every day, captured and sent from a friend in Greece, Lagadas, northern Greece, Church of St Paraskeva. A paralytic, wheelchair-bound woman is getting to her feet after a blessing from a local priest and is walking! During the Holy Liturgy which was held to commemorate the blessing of the Holy Cross. Photographs depict the woman receiving a blessing from Father Dimitrios before she stands on her two feet.

For more photographs and videos which capture more miracles, please go to the Facebook page of the Orthodox City Hermit as I cannot upload them here. Miles of queues of the faithful for the last 7 days. For more photos, go here

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Sent from friends in Greece.

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Busy, nearly exhausted, still in the process of moving, unpacking, deep cleaning of my new flat and making preparations for my new job post. Wishing you all a Blessed Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul!

 

New Beginnings

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Fresco of the Throne of Preparation (Bucovina)

Pentecost blessings, T.S. Eliot malaise and a little city hermit’s new beginnings, and I Have a Question!
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“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

(“Little Gidding” ― T.S. Eliot)

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Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling (…)

(“East Coker,” from *The Four Quartets* East Coker —T. S. Eliot)
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+ Monday of the Holy Spirit

Dear Friends in Christ
May the Holy Spirit give you the fruits of His grace this Pentecost!

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

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I can’t believe May flew by so fast! Little did I know when I wrote on May 1st that my Bight Week pilgrimage “felt like a landmark and a watershed” that so many things in my life would change at such a dizzying speed! Thank you for staying in touch through my inbox. So many emails to reply, questions to answer, stories to be told … I honestly feel surprised and deeply humbled by your love and encouragement. Please be patient with me, as I am simultaneously moving on to new ministries, a new home and a new job!!!. More in the posts to follow…

I need your help in another matter too. Please send me your questions–preferably practical questions that impact you personally in a real way but more theoretical ones too–ideas, topics etc about WHAT you would like me to blog about. Would you be more interested in …

a.Saint’s lives, homilies, holy men’s lives and teachings yet untranslated into English?

b.Vignettes, stories and photos from pilgrimages and Orthodoxy all over the world?

c. Conversion stories, especially from Protestantism to Orthodoxy?

d. ‘Missionary’ vignettes from my life and ministry here?

e. Differences between ‘American’, ‘British’ , ‘Greek’, Russian’, ‘African’ Orthodoxy, if I am allowed to make use of such terms and offer some poor reflections based on first-hand experience?

f. Witnessing in a multicultural and secular country?

g. Differences between a ‘Cradle’ Orthodox person and a ‘Convert’? (Although I personally shun such labels for various reasons)

h. “Questions and Answers”, ‘Erotapokriseis’ ‘literature’? I have received numerous questions over the years, which I have primarily answered in private, but maybe I should make these public. (Anonymously of course) (If one person has a question, most likely many more have the same question.) Witnessing in a multicultural and secular country?

i. … ???

All of the above? None of the above? Please respond at either the Comment section below or at my email – anastasioskefalas1961@gmail.com. Your suggestions to my previous question–whether this blog should become bilingual etc– have been such a great help! Thank you ever so much for your love and encouragement! I really need to decide where to lay emphasis on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Womb

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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.

St. Gabriel’s fiery zeal

Saint Gabriel

Excerpt from the life of Saint Gabriel the Confessor and Fool for Christ of Georgia,   including rare video footage of him

 

“It is quite difficult for the contemporary generation to imagine the unusual spiritual ability of the young monk, who adopted unprecedented and astonishing steps during the terrible communist regime. … The Soviet government planned to keep him in the psycho-neurological hospital forever. But God had preserved the life of His chosen one not for such a fate. It is interesting to read an excerpt from the medical conclusion:

Georgian SSR Tbilisi Healthcare City Psycho-Neurological Hospital 19/1 – 1966, Tbilisi, 1, Electroni Str.

#666Patient: Vasili Urgebadze, born in 1929, 6 class education. Address: 11, Tetritskaro Str.

The patient is stationed in the city psycho-neurological hospital on 18.VIII.1965, and is brought from the prison for forced treatment. Diagnosis: psychopathic person, inclined to schizophrenia-like psychosis blanks. He was discharged from the hospital on 19/11/65. According to anamnesis he had a vision of a ghostly evil spirit with horns on the head at the age of 12… The patient proves that everything bad that is taking place in the world is due to Evil. From the age of 12 he started to go to churches, prayed, bought icons, and studied church literature… He ate nothing on Wednesdays and Fridays. Grown-ups and soldiers laughed at his nonsense: “On Wednesday Judas sold Christ for thirty silver coins, and on Friday the Jewish priests crucified him”; he was totally hallucinating. It was clear from the case that at the 1 May 1965 demonstration, he burnt a big portrait of Lenin, hanging on the building of the Council of Ministers. After interrogatory he said he did this because the picture of the Crucifixion of Christ should hang there and that it was not possible to idolize an earthly man – the doubt appeared in regard to his psychic health, due to which he was sent to court-psychopathic expertise. The examination showed the patient’s orientation is disoriented in place, in time, and in environment. He talks to himself in a low voice: he believes in the existence of heavenly beings, God and angels, etc. While talking, the main axis of a psychopath is always turned to that everything depends on God’s Will, etc. He is isolated from the other mental patients in the department. When someone talks to him, he surely mentions God, angels, and icons, etc. He is unable to criticize his condition. He was treated with the aminazinophrazia and syptomicine therapy, after which he passed commission.

Act of stationary #42 1965

Chairman of the commission: candidate of medicine, chief physician T. Abramishvili,

Members: J. Shalamberidze and physician Kropov.

He was discharged from the hospital on 19 Jan. 1965 and was taken home by his mother.

Physician: Lezhava 19 Jan. 1966.

 

… From that time on, Father Gabriel decided to completely change his lifestyle, which was too painful for him. Now he was determined to pretend as being mentally ill and to outwardly refuse his usual way of life. Instead of being in silence, he loudly preached in the streets. If till now he completely refused to drink wine, now he drank among people and pretended to be drunk. To pretend being foolish is an unusual feat which requires a spiritual strength and divine mind. “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor. 1:25).

 

Source: Mystagogy Resource Center by John Sanidopoulos

St Gregory the Theologian in Spiritual Warfare

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Gregory the Theologian, 1408 – Andrei Rublev

Flee swiftly from my heart, all-crafty one.
Flee from my members and from my life.
Deceiver, serpent, and fire, Belial, sin,
death, abyss, dragon, night, snare, and frenzy,
chaos, manslayer, and ferocious beast!
Thou didst entice into perdition those
first-formed folk, my foreparents, offering them
at the same time the taste of sin and death.
Christ, the Ruler of all commandeth thee to
flee into the billows, to fall upon the rocks,
or to enter the herd of swine, O baleful one,
as once He bade that presumptuous Legion.
Nay, yield forthwith, lest I smite thee with the Cross,
whereat all things tremble;
Oh, flee!
I bear the Cross upon me, in all my members.
I bear the Cross whene’er I journey, whene’er I sleep.
I hold the Cross in my heart. The Cross is my glory.
O mischievous one, wilt thou never cease from
dogging me with traps and laying snares for me?
Wilt thou not dash thyself upon the precipices?
Seest thou not Sodom? Oh, wilt thou not speedily
assail the shameless herds of ungodly heretics,
who, having so recklessly sundered the Almighty
Godhead, have witlessly destroyed and abolished It?
But comest thou against my hoariness? Comest thou
against my lowly heart? Thou ever blackenest me,
O foe, with darksome thoughts, pernicious thoughts.
Thou hast no fear of God, nor of His Priests.
This mind of mine, most evil one, was verily
a mighty and loud-voiced herald of the Trinity.
And now it beholdeth its end, whither it goeth in haste.
Confuse me not, O slimy one, that I might, as pristine,
meet the pure lights of Heaven, that they might
shine like lightning flashes upon my life.
Lo, receive me; lo, I stretch forth my hands.
Farewell, O world! Farewell, thou who bringest woes upon me!
Pity be shown to all that shall live after me.