The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustynnik — 7

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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.

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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

 

 

Saint Nikephoros the Leper appears in Bulgaria and gives the cure for Coronavirus

Saint Nikephoros the Leper appears in Bulgaria and protects from Coronavirus

“…… I learned from the internet that the journalist Angel Bonchev was preparing a book about the unknown for us Saint Nikephoros the Leper, at a critical moment when the world was covered by the coronavirus pandemic and thousands died, killed by this new plague.

I called him on the phone and he briefly told me about his suffering life and the heavy cross that had been given to him. I was very anxious and disturbed in the weeks before by all that was heard on the media, but at that moment I felt comforted, especially when I learned that St. Nikephoros had appeared to a man in Greece to inspire courage and a willingness to help people against this evil.

Since up to this point I did not have much information about his life, akathist, prayers, I was comforted by the little I already knew and told myself that the saint would help, I had faith that he would be with us, I felt close to him. I cried all night, praying to him, thinking about what was happening in the world and the cases of infected people that were growing every day in Bulgaria.

Saint Nikephoros the Leper: The first night

At 4 o’clock that night I fell asleep. In my dream, he visited me – Saint Nikephoros the Leper. I recognized him immediately. I saw him in his black dew, standing up, holding a golden cross in his right hand. He addressed me with the words: “Warn all Christians to pray to me, but repeatedly. Let them also read the services. There is a cure and this is the Holy Communion. There’s also a herb to drink, it’s thyme, it kills viruses. And in any case, be sure to visit the house of God at this difficult time, because there is no contagion there and no one can be infected. ” It was the first night.

Second night

The next night, he came again and said this time that many Christians, and not only, had prayed to him because he had also spread through social networks about his appearance in Greece. He also told me to tell my son to pray to him, but not only once, as he had once said to him, – that is not enough. “Many times,” the saint repeated. The next day I asked my child, “How many times have you prayed to St. Nikephoros?” And he replied that only once in the morning. I explained to him that it was not enough.

The third night

The third night I saw him again. But this time, the most important thing I understood was that Bulgaria would be protected from the virus. I turned to him with the question: “Will all of Bulgaria be preserved?” He said to me, “Yes!” At that moment I saw our country as a map, and he stood over it, over Southern Bulgaria, and more precisely somewhere over Plovdiv. And he said, “Ring the bells, ring the bells, ring the bells!” I asked, “Are there bells in the Diocese of Plovdiv?” “Yes!” He said very briefly and affirmatively. Then he ascended to heaven, and with his golden cross in his hand, he blessed from above. From the very cross, a light came down and illuminated the whole country. The last thing he said was, “It will pass!”

After all this, a tremendous change occurred in me – the reassurance and strength that Saint Nikephoros the Leper Coronavirus Miracle Worker breathed into me, in the face of the panic that has engulfed everyone in the world and in our country … “

Based on a testimony from Bulgaria

In the photo a monk with the icon of the saint of his name: Saint Nikephoros the Leper. Vatopedi Monastery, Mount Athos.

Source: The Ascetic Experience

The Text for Tonight’s Mount Athos Vigil Service

Mount Athos Vigil

For the All-night All-Night Vigil text, go here

Unfortunately, the text in the link below is available only in Greek, but I thought that nonetheless, I should share it, just in case … All prayers, though, are most welcome. Nothing is lost in Christ.

* Please share. 

Montenegro Serbian Orthodox Church in Coronavirus Times

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My brothers and sisters, Christ is in our midst. This Sunday 22/4/2020, in Montenegro, Holy Liturgies were offered open to the faithful, not in defiance of a ban on public gatherings as part of measures to protect people from infection, but cooperating with the authorities. At the special request of Metropolitan Amfilohije Radović (Serbian Cyrillic: Амфилохије Радовић), the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, and the faithful, with the cooperation of Prime Minister Markovitz, Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin and Police chief  Veliovitz.  Sign of the times? Your thoughts? A Photoblog.

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Source: enromiosini. gr

 

When No Priest is Available

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Dear Fathers and Friends in Christ,

 

God bless you all on this Feast of the Annunciation.  Here is a useful “survival” guide for all those who love Christ and His Holy Church so that the Divine Services may be carried on regardless of one’s ability to attend church. You may have  your own rule of prayer. A timely article due to current world events that could easily result in many Orthodox Christians being cut off from their parish churches, if not openly persecuted. 

Home Church

 

 

A Window to Heaven

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Today,  another blessing and surprise encounter awaited me!  But let me start from the very beginning. Early at dawn, I went Elder Symeon’s monastery for Matins, Holy Liturgy and the Memorial service on Saturday of Meatfare.  The service was one of the longest ones I have ever attended; the priests were reading for hours (!) long lists of names of our departed brothers and sisters. What a consolation and a hope to literally be a member of His Body, which our Mother Church will never forget or give up!

Such Mercy and Love outpoured on us all! We also prayed for all our brothers who,  throughout the ages, because of untimely death in a faraway place, or other adverse circumstances, have died without being deemed worthy of the appointed memorial services. The divine Fathers, being so moved in their love for man, have decreed that a common memorial be made this day for all pious Orthodox Christians who have reposed from all ages past, so that those who did not have particular memorial services may be included in this common one for all. 

I was also very impressed by how some of the faithful ended their lists of fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, relatives names with “benefactors, friends, enemies”. Enemies?! Now that was something that I had never heard of before but which I will certainly start adding to my personal diptychs. 

kollyva

Somehow, in all this, Sister Aggeliki of Blessed Memory warmed my heart.

Fleetingly, another thought crossed my mind, about a good man I was told about the other day who consciously decided not to have an Orthodox burial, but cremation instead. And so it happened. When Elders were asked if we could at least give his name for Forty Day Liturgies or for a Trisagion, we were told “no” because “his wish has to be honoured”. This shadowed side, the darkness into which a stubborn sinner can choose to throw himself … Lord have mercy…

Today, we, the militant church, felt outnumbered by the triumphant and invisible Church. Oh, how soon, we too will cross to ‘the other side’. I am so looking forward to meeting my +Elder Gregorios, +Sister Aggeliki …

“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare”. Oh! those cares of life!  May we have “an acceptable defence before His dread Judgment Seat.”

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And then, it happened! At the coffee and the kollyva that followed. There, out of the blue, I met Vassiliki, a frail but very bright woman, 91 years old, who immediately impressed me with her radiant smile, joy and generosity of spirit. In just a few minutes, we realised that we had both worked, side by side, together with Sister Aggeliki. That was it. Now nobody could stop Kyria Vassiliki from sharing case upon case, from court to hospitals, with the liveliest details, all her memories with Sister Aggeliki. She kept telling me how special Sister Aggeliki was! As if I did not know!

Blessed Sister Aggeliki, a legend in our town, I never had a doubt that all those orphans and ill children and families in need which you have tirelessly helped and supported will be offering their thanks to God for you on heaven and in earth. But what touches most my heart is how “easily” you “gave up” your novitiate at St. Nektarios’ monastery in Aegina, at your spiritual father’s word, to stand by and support your elderly, ill mother and your mentally-ill sister.

How patiently you bore your Cross, living an unmercenary doctor’s and nun’s life in a city and waiting until the last 6 months of your life to finally receive the great schema! How all these very harsh circumstances at home did not deter you from offering your love and medical services to everybody for free.  How could you, Sister Aggeliki, retain your sense of humour, enthusiasm and joy when such reality was awaiting you back home every day?

Every single day and night at the mercy of your mentally ill sister — such a martyrdom! I have spent lots of mornings and evenings at your home and your poor sister was giving you such a hard time! Anybody else but you would have “committed” her to a mental institution, but not you.  Because you told me that in the midst of such paranoia, your sister loved God and you wanted to take care of her, take her to church, to holy communion and … Sister Aggeliki was also appalled by the shock treatments psychiatrists applied to medical patients back in those decades.

And that martyrdom and Cross was only one of the many you courageously bore, dear Sister Aggeliki. How could you compose spiritual poetry and theatrical plays and oratoria attracting such wide audiences? And all that and so much more.

I have so many questions to ask you, dear Sister. Please help me understand your answers and prayers “across the other side”.

+ Memory Eternal, Sister Aggeliki, pray for us, “τούς ζῶντες τούς περιλειπόμενους”, “all us who are alive [and] remain unto the Coming of the Lord  (1 Thessalonians 4:15). 

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sister aggeliki tsaousi

For more information about Saturday of Souls, here

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