The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 7

lancaster night1

Remember the Little Things-  Day #7

After my midnight Jesus Prayer I looked out of my “Chapel” window at home and saw peeping through the clouds the moon and the stars. I was reminded of that beautiful Psalm:

Psalm 8:3-6 

3 When I consider your heavens,

    the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

    which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels

    and crowned them with glory and honour.

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

    you put everything under their feet.

lancaster night 2

God has crowned us with glory and honour and yet we often fail to give Him glory and dishonour him with our selfish greed. We fail to connect the vast beauty of creation with our Creator and we abandoned our responsibilities as stewards of this world in which He has placed us. We too often seek the riches of this passing world rather than the Great Treasure of Heaven. Wanting to be like God was the first sin in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:5)

Counting the Cost

Matthew 19:24 “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

The little boy asked the man,” Why are you counting stars?”

“Because no-one else has done it, I started long ago with Mars.” 

“But what’s the purpose of your exercise?” the little boy enquired.

“I own them all!” the man exclaimed, “I’ll stop when I’ve retired.

“I’ve counted over five million, the sum of twenty years;

I count them silently each night so no-one ever hears.”

“They are not yours the boy replied, they all belong to God!”

But the man continued counting stars, pointing at them with a nod.

There are many who like this astronomic man, reap what they have not sown

Who count that which is not theirs and claim it for their own.

 The exercise of counting cash has equal futility,

After all, you cannot take it with you into eternity.

Far better spend your money wisely than buy expensive cars 

What a cost for those who ignore heaven and keep on counting stars!

 

“ Pride is darkness, but humility is light.” St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven.

Eν Χριστώ

 

 

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 6

Antidoron

Remember the Little things- Diary of a Pustynnik

Each day before I say my morning prayers I take a little antidoron (Blessed bread) from the last Holy Liturgy we served together in Church. I soften it in some hot water and sometimes in wine and consume for the day’s blessing for all. I take another piece of antidoron and cut it, dividing it so I find that with the grace of God it begins to multiply.

Holy oil

I light a small lamp in my Icon corner next to the Holy Icons and Holy relics of the saints. Even though this is the smallest lamp I possess and I do not fill it completely with oil( there is water in it too) -it lasts for over eight hours. What a little wonder!

Day and night God increases this bread and this oil. Christ’s blessings come to us when we look unto Him who is the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:2

 

planet3

 

The Main Mover

John 28:18: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

 

Grant my soul the wings to fly

Above the sun and starry sky

To move through infinity and climb

Through silent galaxies sublime

 

From earth to heaven

 

The Keeper of the kingdom praise

With virtuous hearts on high to raise

To seek the things which are above

Born of dust, infused with love.

 From earth to heaven

 

What work the Father made for glory

What hand that wrote Creation story

On the pages of history’s text

That moves from past to present and the next

 From earth to heaven

 

Then this middle earth will bow before

The Watcher over grace and law

When we strive to reach perfection

As the Way points out direction

 From earth to heaven

 

Our Eternal Master assigns vocations

Wrought in tasks and duties of complexions

Within the precincts of our earthly chains

Released from the cycled losses and the gains

 From earth to heaven

 

He who decides our earthly station

Determines too our destination

The wounded hands outreach to all

Extend the invitation call

From earth to heaven

 

JAH Based on the Hymn of Caedmon and the words of Father Porphyrios of Athos.

 

Christ is Everything. He is joy, He is life, He is light. He is the true light who makes man joyful, makes him soar with happiness; makes him see everything, everybody; makes him feel for everyone, to want everyone with him, everyone with Christ.

gallaxy

Love Christ and put nothing before His Love. Christ is Everything. He is the source of life, the ultimate desire, He is everything. Everything beautiful is in Christ.

Saint Porphyrios

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustinnyk — 5

puddle

Dear Friends in Christ,

In these hard times, I have very little to offer you except my love and prayers and to inflict my poetry on you, a captive audience!!

Remember the Little things – diary of a Pustinnyk 

A little miracle happened this morning when my printer decided to fail and “go on strike.”I pushed various buttons at random but to no avail. The question mark on the printer display reflected my own state of perplexity! I was wondering how I was going to print the Akathist for Friday evening and thinking of possible alternatives? Well, the All-Holy Mother of God must have seen my anguish and came to my aid. On returning after prayers, I tried again and the printer worked perfectly. I am sure some with more technological skills will have a perfectly good explanation for how it came to work, but for me who is incompetent, my first recourse is to prayer. 

It set me thinking that the faith of little children is very simple even though they are computer literate; their questions are most perceptive and their observations often revelatory.

puddle2

The shadow of the wind

Matthew 21:16 And Jesus said to them,

’Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants,

You have perfected praise’?”

  

The little boy held his Grandad’s hand tightly in the driving rain.

He suddenly stopped and looked down and stared at the puddle before him.

His Grandfather anticipated some mischievous action from his little grandson.

Was he going to jump into the puddle and make a splash?

But no, the infant just stood there, looking intently into the puddle.

Then he looked up at his beloved elder, and with enquiring eyes asked:

“Grandad, are those ripples the shadow of the wind?”

His Grandfather was reduced to silence before such an observation and search for truth.

  

Lord, you breathed the breath of life into my body,

Let my heartstrings be tuned to your Holy Spirit

 my song of praise be the shadow of my soul,

and may I learn silence before your Word of Wisdom. Amen

  

A loving word never annoys. An arrogant word shall yield no fruit. You must pray all day and all night for the Lord to let your children avoid dangers. God is merciful!

Saint Theophan the Recluse

To the Glory of God

A Cardiologist in love with Christ

The Prodigal

A true story in a crowded and very busy hospital

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst!

Yesterday, I had an arthroscopic surgery. My right knee had been bothering me for a little while. I hoped it would go away but after an examination, and discussion with the orthopaedic surgeon who did the same thing on the same knee 10 years ago, we decided to have it done, again! Now the only reason why I mention this fact to you is because yesterday, while undergoing pre-operation checks, in just 5 minutes in a crowded and very busy hospital, I had a special blessing, an amazing “chance” encounter in His Providence of a cardiologist and a neighbour (!) in love with Christ.

In just a few minutes, while doing routine checks on my heart, we got to know each other quite well for such an unexpected encounter. Of course, any cardiologist must be intelligent enough, but how on earth did he guess my love for Christ and my life? It all happened so fast and it took just a few questions. When I left his office, on my way for the surgery, I had in my hands a slip of paper signed by a mysterious Youtube pen name: “KIXEM Euharistimenos”. ‘

Euharistimenos’ means ‘pleased’ in Greek; as to ‘KIXEM’, I am clueless, maybe a wanderer in Arabic? This cardiologist told me that he had started composing poetry and music while doing his specialisation as a medical student, and started his own studio to release his stress from exams. A few hours later, after the arthroscopic surgery and safely back home, while lying flat in my sofa and resting my leg, I searched the links in Youtube and came upon this, Wow! I was not prepared for this! 

This is the doctor, this must be his flat together with his amateur studio in our neighbourhood, and he uses another pen name: Seraphim Rose!

_Passito __ Kixem Euharistimenos

This is the kind of music he composes:

Mostly instrumental, but sometimes accompanied with simple lyrics, stunning images of saints and landscapes, and beautiful prayers and poems for Him. Like this one: “Glory to God”

 

Or this one: 1 Glory to God equals 1000 Kyrie Eleison (St. Paisios’ saying)

 

A few others of these Youtube compositions have the titles “A Beggar of Joy”, “A Dreamer”, “In Search of an Honest Man”, “A Breath of Life”, The Prodigal”, “Dance of Paradise”, “Thirst for God” etc. The lyrics are all in Greek but you can certainly enjoy his melodies and his beautiful photographs of Saints, churches and monasteries. Well, this cardiologist may not be Bach, but he is certainly very kind and full of His Love. Is not the Creator blessing the robin’s Doxology like the nightingale’s?  Fleetingly, I noticed how he treated his patients in the hospital: with an otherworldly purity of heart, respect, kindness and compassion. I have the feeling that we might meet again somewhere, in God’s Kairos. Has such an encounter ever happened to you recently? 

Your prayers

 

 

Living Waters

living waters.jpg

“But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14)

“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)”

What beautiful imagery! Indeed, the teachings of Our Lord came to the thirsting human race like living water, like a river of grace cooling the face of the earth. Christ is the fount of grace ‘of the water that will gush up to eternal life’, which slakes and waters people’s souls which are parched with raging thirst. Which transforms those who drink into springs: ‘Rivers of living water shall flow from their bellies’. And He said to the Samaritan woman’. The water that I shall give them will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life’. Which transformed the desert of the world into a paradise of evergreen trees planted by God, planted as the edge of the waters by the Holy Spirit.

*

THE FEAST OF MID-PENTECOST AND THE PENTECOSTARION

The fifty days following Pascha until the Feast of Pentecost are known as the period of the Pentecostarion in the Orthodox Church. At the mid-point between these great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, on the twenty-fifth day which is always a Wedneday, is one of the most beloved feasts for the most devout Orthodox Christians known quit simply as Mid-Pentecost. Mid-Pentecost is to the Pentecostarion what the Third Sunday of Great Lent which honors the Holy Cross is to the period of Great Lent. It is a day which helps us focus on the central theme of the entire period. Whereas the mid-point of Great Lent reminds us to bear up the Cross of Christ bravely so that we may daily die with Christ in order to experience the Resurrection of our Lord, so also the mid-point of the Pentecostarion enlightens us regarding the theme of the fifty days following Pascha – which is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit poured out as a gift upon all the faithful who partake of the living water which is Christ Himself.

The central theme woven throughout the period of the Pentecostarion therefore is water. This becomes the central theme of the period because it is the central theme of the Gospel of John which we read in its entirety during the Pentecostarion and which naturally flows into the Acts of the Apostles which is also read during this period in its entirety. This theme appears for the first time on Pascha itself in the joyous Canon of the Feast of Feasts written by Saint John the Damascene when he invites us to “drink a new drink,” not “brought forth from a barren rock,” as in the Old Testament under Moses, but which rather “springeth forth from the grave of Christ.” Then during the Paschal Divine Liturgy the priest processes with the Gospel and chants loudly from Psalm 67:27 saying: “In the congregations bless ye God, the Lord from the well-springs of Israel.”

When Renewal or Bright Week is over the Church wisely sets up two Sundays in which to abolish all doubts concerning the Resurrection of Christ, that of the Sunday of Saint Thomas and the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women. This is done in order to ensure that we all partake of the living water that only the risen Lord can give. The following three Sundays, as we approach Pentecost, the theme of water becomes more and more central in the hymns of the Church. Thus we are found one Sunday at the Sheep’s Pool with the Paralytic, then at the Well of Jacob with the Samaritan Woman, and finally at the Pool of Siloam with the Blind Man. During this festive period we hear concerning the “living water” which if one partakes of “he will never thirst”. We are taught that it is our Savior Himself who is this living water, and we partake of Him through the baptismal waters and the Cup of Life which issued forth from His side at His crucifixion unto remission of sins and life everlasting. Then on Pentecost we have grace rained upon our parched souls and bodies so that we may be fruitful and have a great harvest as we hear from the holy Gospel on that day: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink”. Finally the Pentecostarion concludes with the Feast of All Saints, that is those who partook of the “waters of piety”, which is the harvest of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The Fathers teach us that the feast of Mid-Pentecost stands in the middle of the fifty-day period from Pascha to Pentecost as a mighty flowing river of divine grace which have these two great feasts as its source. Pascha and Pentecost are united in Mid-Pentecost. Without Pascha there is no Pentecost and without Pentecost there is no purpose to Pascha.

We read the following entry in The Great Horologion that further explains the details of the feast:

“After the Saviour had miraculously healed the paralytic, the Jews, especially the Pharisees and Scribes, were moved to envy and persecuted Him, and sought to slay Him, using the excuse that He did not keep the Sabbath, since He worked miracles on that day. Jesus then departed to Galilee. About the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marveling at the wisdom of His words, said, ‘how knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’ But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath.

“Therefore, since the things spoken of by Christ in the middle of the Feast of the Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the midpoint of the fifty days between Pascha and Pentecost, the Church has appointed this present feast as a bond between the two great Feasts, thereby uniting, as it were, the two into one, and partaking of the grace of them both. Therefore today’s feast is called Mid‐Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, ‘At Mid‐feast’—though it refers to the Feast of the Tabernacles—is used.

“It should be noted that there were three great Jewish feasts: the Passover, the Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nissan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which roughly coincides with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and anoint the doors of its houses with its blood. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they passed through the Red Sea to come to the Promised Land. It is called ‘the feast of Unleavened Bread,’ because they ate unleavened bread for seven days. Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received the Law from God; secondly, it was celebrated to commemorate their entry into the Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed with manna forty years in the desert. Therefore, on this day they offered to God a sacrifice of bread prepared with new wheat. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of ‘the seventh month,’ which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, they lived in booths made of branches in commemoration of the forty years they spent in the desert, living in tabernacles, that is, in tents (Ex. 12:10‐20; Lev. 23 LXX). “

The Feast of Mid-Pentecost is celebrated for an entire week until the following Wednesday, making it an eight day feast. During this entire time the hymns of Mid-Pentecost are joined with that of Pascha. Because of the theme of water, traditionally the Church celebrates the Lesser Blessing of the Waters on this day, preferably with a procession with the Holy Cross to a water spring.

The theme of the feast not only invokes water, but even more central to the Gospel chronology it honors Christ as Teacher and Wisdom as He reveals Himself between the stories of the Paralytic and that of the Blind Man. During this time we are told: “Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught…Jesus answered them, and said, ‘My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself'” (John 7:14-30). The icon for this feast depicts the young Jesus teaching the elders in the Temple (Luke 2:46, 47) at which time Jesus first revealed Himself as a teacher or rabbi. Traditional Orthodox icons will depict Jesus as larger than the elders, showing his superior spiritual status.

Since the hymns of the Church invoke and praise our Lord as the Wisdom of God spoken of in the Book of Proverbs, it is traditional that all churches named after Holy Wisdom or Hagia Sophia celebrate their feast on this day. In fact, Greek scholar Constantine Kalokyre has written a study titled “The Churches of the Wisdom of God and the Date of their Celebration”, which appeared in the periodical Saint Gregory Palamas, no. 71 (723) (1988), pp. 538-617. In this study he comes to the conclusion that the Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople celebrated its feast day on Mid-Pentecost.

From Mystagogy

Also cf Pemptousia

*   *   *

Troparion, tone 8: Having come to the middle of the Feast, refresh my thirsty soul with the streams of piety; for Thou, O Saviour, didst cry to all: Let him who thirsts come to Me and drink. O Christ our God, Source of Life, glory to Thee.

Kontakion, tone 4: When the Feast of the law was half over, O Lord and Creator of all, Thou didst say to the bystanders, O Christ our God: Come and draw the water of immortality. Therefore we fall down before Thee and cry with faith: Grant us Thy bounties, for Thou art the Source of our Life.

 

Like a swift sparrow

sparrow

O much-suffering Stephanie, * with the crown of the gifts of grace * hath the Lord now crowned thee, who gavest up thyself * to willing torments and pains in the nobility of thy soul: * ’twixt two palm trees thou wast bound, * and thereby thou wast rent in twain, * spreading out thy wings, * flying up unto God like a swift sparrow and forsaking to the fowlers * thy mortal body, O wondrous one. [Ainos (Praise) from the Orthros November 11]

*It is said that + Martyr Stephanie in Damascus was 16 years old at the time of her martyrdom.
*

Isn’t that an amazing transfiguration of a horrid death? What a stunning testimony to the transformative power of Christ’s Resurrection! This hymn reminded me today of St. Porphyrios and his precious advice on immersing ourselves in the Church’s hymns for their great healing power to overcome all the gloom, the sadness, the failure, and the death that seem to surround us.

*

The Elder Porphyrios once asked a pilgrim visiting him:

— Do you know the troparion that begins, “We celebrate the slaying of death …”?

— Yes, elder, I know it.

— Then say it.

—“We celebrate the slaying of death, the destroying of hell, the beginning of another way of life that is eternal. And leaping for joy, we sing a hymn to the Cause, the only blessed and most glorious God of our fathers.”

—Do you understand it?

—Certainly I understand it.

I thought that he was asking me for a translation into modern Greek.

The Elder then waved his hand dismissively saying,

— Little George, you didn’t understand anything at all! You said it quickly like a chanter in a hurry. Listen to what awesome things are said in this hymn: Through Christ and His resurrection, we do not get across a river, a gorge, a canal, a lake, or even the Red Sea. We have moved across an abyss that no human being could cross on his own. Ages came and went with the world waiting for this Pascha, for this passage. Our Christ passed from death to life! That’s why today “we celebrate the slaying of death, the destroying of hell.” Death is no more. We celebrate today “the beginning of another way of life that is eternal,” a life with Him.

Speaking with enthusiasm and conviction, the Elder was clearly moved. The elder paused and continued more energetically:

— Now there is no more chaos, no more death, no more slaying, no more Hell. Now everything is joy, thanks to the resurrection of our Christ. Human nature is resurrected with Him. Now we too can rise again that we might live with Him eternally … What bliss is contained in the Resurrection! “And leaping for joy, we sing a hymn to the Cause.” Have you seen how young goats now in the spring frolic on the green grass? They drink some of their mother’s milk and then prance about leaping for joy, and so do we celebrating the ineffable joy of the resurrection of our Lord.

He then stopped speaking. Pure joy was now in the air. And the elder continued,

—Can I give you some advice? In every sorrow, with every failure, in anything that causes you pain, collect yourself for half a minute and slowly say this hymn. Then, you will see that the most important thing in your life and in the life of the entire universe has already been accomplished with the resurrection of Christ. It is our salvation. And then, you realize that all our setbacks are so insignificant, that you don’t need to allow them to spoil your mood.

— St. Porphyrios, Wounded by Love

Clay

clay.jpg

Clay robs clay.

Clay insults clay.

Clay slanders clay.

Clay gets rich at the expense of  clay.

Clay rules clay.

Clay punches clay.

Clay imprisons clay.

 

And in general:

Clay considers itself

wiser,

stronger,

richer,

nobler,

more valuable

to other clay.

Elder Joseph the Hesychast, Monastic Wisdom, Epistle 39