Monastery of Saint Hilarion, Bishop of Meglin

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Back to Greece, for yet another long pilgrimage. And yes, Greece can be foggy like England. 

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Our pilgrimage starts at a historic monastery, dating back to  the 12th century, located one kilometer from Promahi village (Aridaia, Greece), founded by St. Hilarion of Meglin (Feast Day – October 21). 

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St. Hilarion was born of eminent and devout parents in that same village of Promahi, in the late 11th century. His childless mother had long prayed to God that He grant her a child, and in accordance with her prayer, the Most Holy Theotokos appeared to her and comforted her with the words: “Do not grieve, you will give birth to a son and he will turn many to the light of truth.” When Hilarion was three years old, the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!” was constantly on his lips. He was well-educated, was tonsured a monk at age eighteen, and founded this monastery dedicated to the Holy Apostles, based on the Rule of Saint Pachomios.

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These days, the monastery is an austere women’s monastery with 5 nuns under the obedience of Hieromonk Paisios, a spiritual child of St. Paisios. Vespers here is otherworldly in its beauty.

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Saint Hilarion of Meglin’s lifelong struggle and contribution to the Orthodox Church was against the Bogomils. Because of Hilarion’s prayers and exhortations, many of the Bogomils abandoned their teachings and converted to Orthodox Christianity. It is noted in the thirteenth century Markianos Code, Codex 524, that during his burial service, myrrh streamed continually from his eyes and that he later appeared on many occasions in visions to the monks of the monasteries to strengthen them in their monastic duties.

O Venerable Father Hilarion, intercede with Christ God to save our souls.

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The old woman and the cab driver

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“I arrived at the address and signaled. After waiting a few minutes, I beep again. Since this was supposed to be my last passenger, I thought about leaving, but instead I parked the car, went to the door and knocked … “Just a minute,” said a fragile, elderly woman’s voice. I heard something being dragged along the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A little woman of about 90 was standing in front of me. She was wearing a plain dress and a hat with a veil, as if from 1940s films. Next to her was a small suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for many years. All furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no trinkets or dishes on the shelves. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photographs and glassware.

“Would you help me carry the bag to the car?” She asked. I took the suitcase to the car and then came back to help the woman. She took my hand and we slowly walked toward the car.

She continued to thank me for my kindness. “It’s nothing,” I told her, “I just try to treat my passengers the way I want them to treat my mother.”

“Oh, you’re such a good boy,” she said. When we got into the car, she gave me the address and then asked: “Could you go through the center of the city?”

“This is not the shortest route,” I replied.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. – “I’m not in a hurry. I’m going to the hospice. ”

I looked in the rearview mirror. Her eyes sparkled. “My family left a long time ago,” she continued in a low voice, “The doctor says that I have not very long to go.”

I calmly extended my hand and turned off the meter.

“What route would you like to go?” I asked.

For the next two hours we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the area where she and her husband lived when they were newlyweds. She showed me a furniture warehouse, which was once a dance hall, where she worked as a little girl.

Sometimes she asked me to slow down in front of a specific building or alley and sat staring into the darkness, saying nothing. Then she suddenly said: “I am tired, perhaps we will go now.”

We rode in silence at the address she gave me. It was a low building, something like a small sanatorium, with a driveway along the portico.

Two nurses approached the car as soon as we arrived. They gently helped her out. Must have been waiting for her. I opened the trunk and carried a small suitcase at the door. The woman was already sitting in a wheelchair.

“How much do I owe you?” She asked, reaching for her purse.

“Nothing at all,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she replied.

“There are other passengers,” I replied.

Almost without thinking, I leaned over and hugged her. She hugged me tightly in response.

“You gave the old lady some happiness,” she said. – “Thank you”.

I squeezed her hand and then left … The door closed behind my back, it was the sound of closing another book of life …

Source: Orthodox Parables and Stories

Twenty-four hours with St. Amphilochios (II)

1.Cultivate the Jesus Prayer and a time will come when your heart will leap with joy, just as it does when you are about to see a person who you love very much.

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2.Do not neglect evening prayer. Pray with eagerness like those who are going to a feast. They are awake and feel joy alone. Thus, since you are going to speak with your Bridegroom, do not listen when the Tempter tells you various things in order to hinder you, because you know there is someone who cares for you.

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3.-“Elder, how must we picture Christ?”

-“We must always bring to Christ to mind with love. We could be holding the photograph of someone in our hands, but since we do not know them, we do not love him, we are not moved. Whereas, when we pick up a photograph of our mother, our soul immediately leaps and cries out with love.

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4.A person can be raised up above the earth by two wings, one is simplicity and the other is purity of heart. You must be simple in your actions and pure in your thoughts and feelings. With a pure heart you’ll seek God and with simplicity you’ll find Him and be glad. A pure heart passes through Heavens gate with ease.

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5.Self-denial must be cultivated with discernment, otherwise we reach the point of suicide.

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6.We are on the high seas of life, sometimes there are storms and at other times calm. God’s grace does not leave us. Else, we would have sunk, if he had not held us up. 

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7.The saints always look to the other life. It is the grace of the remembrance of death.

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8.God guards us from temptation. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond our strength. He allows everything for our good.

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9.When spirituality increases, even sleep will have been fought off.

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10.Prayer is grace. God gives it when zeal and humility exist.

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11.Fight the Hater of Good, who envies you, bravely suffer whatever befalls you with fortitude, patience and faith.

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12.Do not allow your soul’s enemy to wage war against you. He appears in sheep’s clothing, supposedly wanting your soul’s benefit.

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13.Trust in the Lord always and he will nourish you in time of hunger. … Spiritual bonds become unbreakable when they come across a child-like spirit, innocence and sanctity.

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14.With a good word for your neighbour, supporting him, you buy paradise.

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15.Repentance must occur, not from fear of punishment but because we have sinned before God. Sweeten your thoughts with words of consolation and hope. Warm your words with the warmth of your love towards your Bridegroom and remember His Passion, which he underwent for you, so that you would remain firm, devoted and humble. Give your whole self completely over to the protecting veil of the Panagia.

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16.Love giving hospitality, my child, for it opens the gates of Paradise. In this you also offer hospitality to angels. “Entertain strangers so that you won’t be a stranger to God.”

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17.The saints submitted to whatever God sent them, with childlike simplicity, “That’s the way You want it. Let Your will be done.”

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18.Hospitality… the greatest of virtues. It draws the grace of the Holy Spirit towards us. In every stranger’s face, my child, I see Christ himself.

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Chapel of Unknown martyrs by St. Amphilochios

19.Sorrow is pleasing to God, in as much as it doesn’t take away our courage to fight.

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20.It is necessary and beneficial for a general self-examination to take place from time to time, remembering all former sins. … Our deeds, dear sister, will not save us; God’s infinite mercy will.

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21.Leave all your concerns to the hands of God. Ask for whatever you want, like a child asking from its father. … Prayer is a gift from God. Always ask with hope.

 

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The nunnery of  Evangelismos “The Annunciation to the Mother of the Beloved One” was built in 1613 from a Cretan monk of the Monastery, named Nikiforos. It is southwest of Chora. It consists of the temple of the Evangelistria (Our Lady of the Annunciation) of the side chapel of St. Luke and from a three-floored fortified tower with the side chapel of St. Antonio. The foundation of the monastery is dated from 1936, from the monk Amphilochios Makris, a great spiritual figure. He worked hard for the foundation and the development of the nunnery. The icons in the church date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century. The sisterhood is home to over 40 nuns who apart from praying, occupy themselves with social welfare, gardening, beekeeping and Byzantine embroidery called the”spitha” (spark). The same stitch was used to make embroidery for aristocratic Byzantine families from the time of Hosios Cristodoulos.

Spiritual Counsels and Sayings Translated by Marina Robb.

All material is copywrited to Evangelismos Monastery, Patmos.

Source: CyberDesert

Twenty-four hours with St. Amphilochios (I)

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At the nunnery of  Evangelismos “The Annunciation to the Mother of the Beloved One” in Patmos

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1.When you cultivate prayer the Tempter’s blusterings will not trouble you. Prayer diminishes his strength, he cannot do anything to us. (February 1965) .. The spiritual life has great pleasures. You fly, you leave the world , you don’t consider anything. You become children and God dwells in your heart. 

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St. Amhilochios Makris

2. The end of my life draws near I ask you to live a holy life, to walk along holy paths, so that you may help both our Church and Greece. … Your hearts are young and want to love. You must have our Christ alone in your heart. Your Bridegroom wants you to love only Him. 1/1/1968

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3.Remaining faithful to Monasticism is considered to be a martyrdom. … We must have our gaze fixed on heaven. Then nothing will shake us. …Take communion regularly, pray warmly, be patient and you will see a strong hand holding you.

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4.Christ often comes and knocks at your door and you invite him to sit in the living-room of your soul. Then, absorbed in your own business you forget the Great Visitor. He waits for you to appear and when you are too long in returning, he gets up and leaves. At other times, you are so busy that you answer him from the window. You don’t even have time to open the door.

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5.You are royalty, destined for the heavenly bridal chamber. …. Christ is near us even if we don’t see Him. Sometimes, from his great love, He gives us a slap too.

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6.We you see a person who is spiritually tired do not burden him any further, because his knees won’t be able to bear it. … A person who suffers from egotism attracts no-one. And if he does attract someone he will soon go away. When one comes across a childlike spirit, innocence and holiness the bond becomes unbreakable.

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7.Love the One, so that even wild beasts will love you. … Do you know there is an eleventh commandment not recorded in the Bible, and it says, ‘Love the trees.’ Those who do not love trees do not love Christ.

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8.True wealth, for me, is to see you in the Kingdom of Heaven. [to his spiritual children]

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9.When the flame of love exists, it consumes whatever evil approaches. … The person who shouts has no strength.

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10.The person who loves spiritually, feels prayerful, that he can be found within God and his brother. He is saddened when his brother is not advancing well and prays for his progress. Whoever has Christian love never changes.

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11.Hold the banner of Christ up high, so that you’ve always got your elder’s telephone number no matter where you are. … The Grace of the All-Holy Spirit makes a person send out rays. However, other people must have a good receiver in order to realise this. 1/1/1968

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12.Christ is the same, yesterday and today, but we have closed our eyes and look into the darkness. It is because we carry on like this that some fall in the mud and others are killed.

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13.I beseech the Lord to sanctify you, so that I may see you in Paradise. This is the dowry which I seek from the Lord for you.

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St Amphilochios’ tomb

14.For God’s grace to come during the Liturgy you must be concentrated and untroubled. 

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15.The more a person loves God, the more he loves other people. He loves them with holiness, respect and refinement, as images of God.

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16.When a person lacks inner warmth, he will be frozen and cold, even in summer.

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17.When your heart does not have Christ, it will contain either money, property or people instead. 

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18.Please put this commandment into practice. Cultivate love towards the Person of Christ to such an extent that, when you pronounce His name, tears fall from your eyes. Your heart must really burn. Then He will become your teacher. He will be your Guide, your Brother, your Father, and your Elder.

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19.Love your Bridegroom Christ with all your heart and then everyone will love you and take care of you.

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20.I desire the rebirth of Monasticism, because in my opinion, monasticism is the evzone [elite military unit] battalion of the Church.

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21.God’s protection diminishes temptation. … Innocence is greater than genius.

22.Because of widespread corruption, people cannot understand that spiritual love exists.

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St. Amphilochios cell

23.Let us look upon everyone as our superiors, however weak they may appear. Let us not be harsh, but always bear in mind that the other person also has the same destination as us. 

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24.We must have Love, even if they do us the greatest harm, we must love them. We will be able to enter Paradise only with love. 

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A few Saints Await

The little city hermit has started to take heart! So many prayers for him from all four corners of the world could not possibly go unheard! They have not been answered  in the way that he would have hoped — yet!– but this is a matter of least importance. Still in the dark, then, about a number of serious professional and family matters, the little city hermit is about to embark on a long pilgrimage across Greece and Romania, where a few Saints and spiritual elders await him for an “emergency treatment”:

St John the Forerunner in the Chalkidiki monastery of his spiritual father;

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St John the Evangelist and St Amphilochios in Patmos!

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And an elusive Romanian father Ioann, literally hiding in a North Romania hamlet, who has been praying about him for a long time, and a spiritual sister has made all necessary arrangements for them to meet at long last!

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Glory to God for all things! Even if no answers are to be disclosed in all these meetings, still so many blessings are under way!

Handing over your soul

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Abbas Roufos:

‘Someone who hands over his soul in obedience to a spiritual guide has a greater reward that one who retires alone to a hermitage.’ He also said this: ‘One of the fathers saw a vision of four ranks in heaven. The first rank was of those who are sick, yet give thanks to God. The second rank was of those who minister to the sick willingly and generously. The third rank was of those who live in the desert, seeing no one. The fourth rank was of those who for God’s sake put themselves under obedience to spiritual guides. But those who live in obedience in the fourth rank wore necklaces and crowns of gold and shone more than the others. I said to the one who showed me the vision, ‘How is it that the rank which is lowest shines the most?’ He replied, ‘Those who care for others do what they themselves want to do. Hermits follow their own will in withdrawing from the world. But the obedient have gone beyond their self-will, and hang on to God and the word of their spiritual guides: that is why they shine the most.’ Learn by this how great a good is obedience if it is for God’s sake and strive to win some trace at least of this virtue. It is the salvation of the faithful, the mother of all virtue, the entry into the kingdom; it raises us from earth to heaven; obedience lives in the same place as the angels; it is the food of the saints who by its nourishment grow to fullness of life.’

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers

On Account of the Angels

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“…But now, and at least since the late 1990s (when she said the headscarf appeared in her world), the challenge for Orthodox women is to build a healthy counter-culture in which to live and raise their children. If they choose to make the wearing of a veil when in church one component of that counter-culture, who is Kelaidis or anyone else (including me) to say otherwise? The words “a woman’s choice” can and have been horribly misused, but surely here is one instance where a woman’s choice ought to be respected.

Kelaidis is quite right about one thing: “modesty is not a line you draw on your knee [i.e. a dress’ hemline], but a line you draw on your heart”. Women can be modest and pious without wearing a veil in church, as many women at my own little church can attest. But a veil is now not only—or even primarily—a tool for modesty, Kelaidis’ assertion that “Modesty was always the goal of the veil” notwithstanding. Now it is a choice that some women make to express their respect for a sacred space and their desire to be different from the secular world around them. Of course women can do this without wearing a veil. But some women choose to do this through the wearing of a veil. And surely they should be allowed to do this without being blamed or scolded in the pages of Public Orthodoxy?

I cannot help but wondering if the main target and source of anger in Kelaidis’ piece is not the presence of the veil among Orthodox convert women, but the fact that these convert women choose to wear the veil as an expression of their choice to be counter-cultural and to reject the secularism around them—a secularism that Public Orthodoxy seems to so often embrace. The goal is still assimilation to contemporary culture, even now that our culture has become diseased.”

To read the whole article Fr. Lawrence Farley, go to Headscarves, Modesty, and Scolding Modern Orthodox Women, a brilliant, bold critique to  Katherine Kelaidis’ HEADSCARVES, MODESTY, AND MODERN ORTHODOXY 

Also, read a moving personal testimony by Elisabet: On Account of the Angels: Why I Cover My Head

 

Thoughts?