Freedom from Suffering

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The moment we accept death, true life can begin.  (Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra)

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The secret to his freedom does not lie in the rejection of his suffering, but in his joyful acceptance of them. He will be truly free only when he lets go of wanting to be free of his sufferings, for all freedom and all life depend on our being in right relation to God. When he accepts his death; when he allows himself to hear the sound of his footsteps descending into the grave, he will find that death no longer has a hold on him, for now he is with God. The darkness will vanish and he will see only light.

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If he accepts to become an instrument of God’s will, he will emerge triumphant; but otherwise he will fail.

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If “l” exist God cannot exist, for there cannot be two gods, and so it is either God or the self. When someone sees only his own suffering, God cannot answer him, for it is precisely the mistaken, negative attitude toward suffering that constitutes the separation between him and God. But if “I” cease to exist, if my relation to my suffering changes, then I can be united to God. This union depends on the denial of my self, so that God can come into my life.

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I must learn to accept suffering with joy, to find joy within my suffering, to realize that even in my moments of glory, I am nothing but “dust and ashes” (Gen 18:27), a pelican in the wilderness (Ps 102:6), lost in a desert land, seeking shelter in a landscape of ruins. I must realize my sinfulness, my nakedness, my alienation from God; I must realize I am like a sparrow alone o a house top (Ps 102:7), not because I have some psychological problem, but because I have been separated from God. … In this cry, this calling out, there exists the hope that I will hear the sound of His footsteps, and these will overtake my own and lead me to salvation.

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Source: Psalms and the Life of Faith, by Elder Aimilianos of Simonopetra, pp 104-10
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Elder Aimilianos and Christ Pantokrator

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Please have a look at the eyes of the Elder how much they resemble Christ’s ‘different’ eyes and left vs right features in that famous Sinai icon*. Isn’t this a striking similarity? I am completely mesmerised, if I may use such an expression, with this photograph of the Elder, and I have been spending really a lot of time simply looking at him, ever since his repose in Christ. Compassionate, Peaceful, yet Stern too. It feels like an icon to me, and not a photograph. Your thoughts?

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Many (1) agree that the icon represents the dual nature of Christ, illustrating traits of both man and god, perhaps influenced by the aftermath of the ecumenical councils of the previous century at Ephesus and Chalcedon. Christ’s features on his left side (the viewer’s right) are supposed to represent the qualities of his human nature, while his right side (the viewer’s left) represents his divinity.

(1) Cf. Manaphēs, Sinai: Treasures, 84; Robin Cormack, Oxford History of Art: Byzantine Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 66.

 

Elder Aimilianos Simonopetritis Has Departed This Life

Gerondas Aimilianos

Newly reposed Elder Aimilianos, 23 years of illness. Memory Eternal! Such a special spiritual father! I have known him through his books, homilies and my friends’ testimonies, how he intervened and changed their lives.

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You have made known to me the ways of life; you will fill me with joy with your countenance (Ps. 15, 11)

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*As for the little city hermit, he has disappeared because he has to undertake a Mission Impossible at his Spiritual Father’s word. Prayers are requested since it does feel like a Mission Impossible.

Find Yourself and Find Your Own Way to Serve God

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Words By Convent Fathers

 

By Fr. Sergius Nezhbort

Sometimes we have to embrace the reality and accept the circumstances of our lives as they are. It doesn’t mean that we have done something wrong. Most likely, we simply have to go through that period in life. You’ve got to spend it with dignity. You must not step back, be scared and run away. You must remain with God. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 20, 2019)

By Fr. Sergius Faley

As soon as you’ve caught yourself doing something wrong, and you feel that your conscience rebukes you for it, you should repent immediately. You’ll be lucky if you repent before you get to the analogion with the crucifix and the Gospel on it. […]

By Fr.  Alexander Pashkovsky

As soon as a person feels offended, he or she is exposed to the power of pride and therefore is left without God’s shield. That is when it is great to bring your sins to memory and to rebuke yourself. (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 9, 2019)

 

By Fr. George Glinsky

“We must witness with our life because when we face ordeals, then we shall be able to show ourselves as preachers of the truth of Christ more fully. All extreme situations, let alone persecutions for the faith of Christ, will purify us before God’s face and show who we are and to which extent we are ready to speak about Christ, about God who opens the Heavenly Kingdom for everybody, about God who is Love.” (Sermon after the Divine Liturgy on January 16, 2019)

“The trials that we go through are not only sent to us personally but also to all who are tied to us with invisible bounds of love. I’m talking about the Church of Christ. […]

 

By Fr. Valery Zakharov

 

God always treats us the same: with love. His love may be sorrowful or buoyant but it’s love nevertheless. (Sermon before a Confession in the Boarding Home for Children with Special Needs on January 11, 2019)

More words at The Catalog of Good Deeds

Concerning the Last Judgement