Elder Ephraim’s Prayer Diary of the Great Lent (II)

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February 29, 1980 [3rd Thursday of Lent]

I feel sinful and dirty. The true awareness of my nothingness greatly helps me to see God.
“Thou shalt gladden him in joy with Thy face” (Ps. 20:6). Oh, that divine face! It has Eros and Beauty from the Glory, from the supremely radiant Light of the Trinity’s effulgence. This is what the transcendent Beauty of God is: a divine electrification and contact with God the Father, His humility and condescension. Oh, how unlimited the humility and simplicity of God is! The humility and condescension of the awesome God astounds and overwhelms me! How filthy and dirty man is! Even though he has so many sins and is so guilty, he feels haughty and behaves egotistically. There is nothing stupider than this.
The angels are celebrating in heaven, dressed in white with inconceivable beauty within the supremely  bright light of God. They are chanting — and what are they chanting! Their hymns are pure bliss. But that which makes them stay in this blessed state is the grace of humility and true self-knowledge.
Unfortunately, I am proud, which is why I lack this joy and grace. Like a helpless creature, like a thirsty deer, I seek, cry out, and long to be watered by the true Fountain —  my God  —  with a divine drink, with the water springing up into eternal life (cf. Jn. 4:14). “When shall I come and appear before the face of my God?” (cf. Ps. 41:2) I weep, seeking my God. When I touch Him, I feel him and weep. But how this is happening, I do not know; one thing I do know, and that is that I feel Him as much as He wants and corresponding to the humility I feel for my dirty self. My God and Father, open the eyes of my blind soul to see my nature, the nothingness of my nothingness, and through it to see You, the most lovely Light, Who gives eternal life to mortal man. Enlighten my darkness, O divine, lovely Light.
 Amen

 *

For the first part of his Lenten Diary, go to Elder Ephraim’s Prayer Diary of the Great Lent (I)
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Elder Ephraim’s Prayer Diary of the Great Lent (I)

elder efraim

February 17, 1980

I experienced amazement and divine wonder tonight in my poor prayer. My nous tasted God. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9)

All this is a fruit of the labor of my Holy Elder, who truly toiled inside the caves of Athos with fasts, vigils, weeping, and tears. I, on the other hand, am a miserable, hideous monstrosity; an unmonastic monk; a sluggard eating the labor of my father, Saint Joseph. If God did not have mercy on me through his intercessions, I would be spiritually lost.

The festival in heaven entices me—there in the eternal and immutable blessings, where only silence reigns, since it is the only thing one is able to do. But when shall I behold the face of my lovely Father!!! When shall I be satisfied with His glory? Oh, what beauty! But I am a filthy stench and the demons’ joy.

My God, forgive me, the nothing of nothingness. Only Your mercy saves me from my evil self…

February 18, 1980

The communication of my sinful soul with the supremely radiant God was very wonderful tonight. The heavenly world is a different realm; a different mode of life; a different atmosphere.

My God, what can I, the miserable pauper, say about what You are! You are a stupendous and immense delight. You are impalpable, and yet how are You touched? For when this contact happens, the soul is electrified with divine electricity, and sweet and beautiful tears run and run from my eyes. But in the heart, what happens!

My incomprehensible, inexpressible, and lovely God, what can I, the miserable one say about You! There are no words, there is no man capable or competent to do so. One can only feel reverence, worship, sacredness, and divine love in silent amazement.

Oh, how much I would like to be no longer on earth with the uncertainty of my salvation! Oh, if only I were already in the world of my God, my Father, my worship. There is eternity, certainty, and security.

I weep because I am the greatest sinner in the whole world. I mourn the uncertainty of my salvation. I do not know if I shall be saved. Here is the crux of the matter. Alas! I wonder, shall I reach the calm haven of eternal bliss? I wonder, shall I see the glory of my God?

Have pity on me, O only-begotten Logos of God,

My Jesus Christ

A Canon to the Paraclete

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St. Maximos the Greek (+ 21 January 1556) was imprisoned in Russia, banished to the Monastery of Volokolamsk, where he suffered from hunger, bitter cold and all kinds of torments. There he was bereft of everything, even being deprived of Holy Communion and books, yet prayer alone sustained him. The Lord did not abandon him, but one day an angel appeared to him and said: “Have patience! You will be delivered from eternal torment by the sufferings here below.” To thank God for this heavenly consolation, St. Maximos composed a poetical canon in honor of the Holy Spirit. Deprived of paper and pen, he wrote it on the walls of his cell in charcoal! This canon is sung on the Monday of the Holy Spirit in certain Russian and Serbian monasteries.

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A Canon to the Divine, Worshipful & All-Holy Spirit, the Paraclete
By Saint Maximos the Greek
In Tone IV
Ode 1
lrmos: He who was slow of speech, having been covered with divine darkness, gave utterance unto the divinely written law; for, having shaken off the mire from his noetic eyes, he beheld the One Who Is and learned the understanding of the Spirit, uttering praise with hymns divine.
Refrain: Glory to Thee, O our God, glory to Thee!
O Master, Who of old didst feed Israel with manna in the desert, fill Thou my soul with the most Holy Spirit, that for such I may continually serve Thee in God-pleasing manner.
Refrain: Glory to Thee, O our God, glory to Thee!
Making bold, with Thine incorporeal ministers I sing to Thee the hymn of the thrice-holy cry, though I am earth and ashes, O true Trinity and allgood Unity.
Refrain: Glory to Thee, O our God, glory to Thee!
Ever assailed in my soul by the storms of destructive passions and spirits, I set my hope of salvation on Thee, the most good Paraclete, in that Thou art God.
Refrain: Glory to Thee, O our God, glory to Thee!
See also “ST MAXIMUS AS A MONK AT THE VATOPEDI MONASTERY” by Archimandrite Ephraim

Unfading Bloom

 

athos summit flowers

Flowers sheltered like cenobitic monks in a crevice at the summit of Mt. Athos.

“How can I plead empty-handed?”

St. Paisos would always cut a few wild flowers outside his hut and take them to the Theotokos icon, whenever he wanted to pray to Her.

Indeed, he urged everybody to always make an offering to Panagia, even a little one, anything within our power

 

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At the hut of St. Paisios

 

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The Rocks Split

 

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Ascending to The Horrendous Golgotha (John 19, 17), i.e. “The Place of the Skull” (“Golgotha” in Hebrew), was by far the most gut wrenching experience at our pilgrimage. Here the mystery of divine economy was accomplished, here the New Testament was sealed with the blood of the Theanthropos (Godman) which cleansed humanity from the evils of sin and death.

Stairway to Calvary in Holy Sepulchre Church

Stairway to Calvary in Holy Sepulchre Church …

*

Like in the prison of Christ, suddenly everything — the raw violence, the injustice and the hubris recorded in the “Twelve Gospel” readings* -– everything, becomes scarily all too real!

 

33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). …

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”[c] When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23, 44-46)

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,[a] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[c] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.” (Matthew 33, 45-53)

 

 

“Today is hung upon the Tree, He Who did hang the land in the midst of the waters. A Crown of thorns crowns Him Who is King of Angels. He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery Who wrapped the Heavens with clouds. He received buffetings Who freed Adam in Jordan. He was transfixed with nails Who is the Bridegroom of the Church. He was pierced with a spear Who is the Son of the Virgin. We worship Thy Passion, O Christ. Show also unto us thy glorious Resurrection.”

 *

This is the hole through which you can touch the very earth where the Cross actually stood.

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The queue of the pilgrims never ends here.

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Just look at this ancient rock, the Rock of Calvary, literally split in half, exuding the fragrance of Holiness and Sanctity!

 

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“Oh look, my soul, look!

How the rock was split in half

At the sight of the Crucifixion

Of the Invaluable Treasure!”

(Excerpt of a poem by St. John Jacob (the Romanian)

 

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How much more should our hearts be torn and wounded by love if an inanimate material felt the hubris and shuddered and literally split in two at the sight of our Lord on the Cross!     Indeed, we need to continually beseech the Lord for “pardon and remission of our sins and transgressions”, “that we may complete the remaining time of our life in peace and repentance”. 

“Before the end to our life comes, because then we lose the right to pray for ourselves… because the time given to us for our repentance has expired.”

 

Glory to Thy Forbearance, O Lord!

Lord Jesus Christ forgive us the sinners.

 

* Service of the HOLY PASSION of our Lord Jesus Christ on Great Holy Thursday Evening

 

 

 

A Prayer for All Time

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Elder Paisios: Say this prayer every day and God will always be at your side.

    The love of the Elder Paisios for the whole world is well known.  The Elder has helped a whole host of people before and after his physical death.  But the question is from where did he receive his ability to help people and to perform miracles?  He received this heavenly power through his fervent prayers to God.

   The following prayer of his was given to a convent which had asked the Elder for a prayer rule that could be used by the nuns in their evening vigils.  This directive was given to the nuns during the final years of his life.  The main emphasis of this prayer is his profound love for all of humanity.

  This prayer can be used by every Christian believer since it takes in all the issues of life that need our prayers.  Even the children can understand it easily since it is expressed in simple words.  It can be used by families during their evening prayers.

Prayer

Our Lord Jesus Christ:

Do not abandon your servants who live far away from the Church.   May your love convict them and bring them back to you.

Lord have mercy on your servants who are suffering from cancer.

On your servants who suffer either from small or serious ailments.

On your servants who suffer from physical infirmities.

On your servants who suffer from spiritual infirmities.

Lord have mercy on our leaders and inspire them to govern with Christian love.

Lord have mercy on children who come from troubled homes.

On troubled families and those who have been divorced.

Lord have mercy on all the orphans of the world, on all those who are suffering pain and injustices since losing their spouses.

Lord have mercy on all those in jail, on all anarchists, on all drug abusers, on all murderers, on all abusers of people, and on all thieves.  Enlighten these people and help them to straighten out their lives.

Lord have mercy on all those who have been forced to emigrate.

On all those who travel on the seas, on land, in the air,  and protect them.

Lord have mercy on our Church, the bishops, the priests and the faithful of the Church.

Lord have mercy on all the monastic communities, male and female, the elders and eldresses and all the brotherhoods of Mt. Athos.

Lord have mercy on your servants who find themselves in the midst of war.

On your servants who are being pursued in the mountains and on the plains.

On your servants who are being hunted like birds of prey.

Lord have mercy on your servants who were forced to abandon their homes and their jobs and feel afflicted.

Lord have mercy on the poor, the homeless and the exiled.

Lord have mercy on the nations of the world.  Keep them in your embrace and envelope them with your holy protection.  Keep them safe from every evil and war.  Keep our beloved Greece (we can add here all countries, all mankind) in your protective embrace day and night.  Embrace her with your holy protection defending her from all evil and war.

Lord have mercy on those who have been abandoned and have suffered injustice.  Have mercy on families that are going through trying times.  Pour your abundant love upon them.

Lord have mercy on your servants who suffer from spiritual and bodily problems of all kinds.

Lord have mercy on those who are despairing.  Help them and grant them peace.

Lord have mercy on those that have requested that we pray for them.

Lord grant eternal rest to all those who have passed on to eternal life throughout the ages.

 

Choice (I)

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“Lord, let me come and join you in that land which beckons me, in those fields that I love.”

“No, it is in this town that you must meet me.”

“Lord, I long for the sun and the wilde flowers over there.”

“I only have this black sky and these thorns to give you.”

“But Lord, there is only noise and smoke here.”

“There is something else as well; there is sin.”

“Lord, I would so like to see again the blue water that you knew!”

“Here, hearts are sick and souls are dying in darkness.”

“Lord, I could perhaps stay if you entered into my heart, if you took my hand. But when I see these streets […] my whole being revolts and escapes in thought over there. Must I therefore still stay here, with my sadness and my solitude?”

“My child, is it so difficult to decide? And to walk where I walk?”

*

Lev Gillet, “Sunday Letters”, ‘Lev Gillet, A Monk of the Eastern Church’ by Elisabeth Behr-Sigel, p231

* Specially dedicated to my spiritual father