The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustinnyk — 2


Remember the Little things”, #2

Day #2

Dear Friends in Christ,

God bless you

A virtual tour of my chapel!

Spot the difference!





Today it was my obedience to wash the white and embroidered Holy Table cloth which was made and given to our community by a Greek lady from Polydroso Marousi in Athens back in 1998. She also embroidered a matching Gospel book cover( kalima) with an icon of St Nicholas Planas. I replaced it with the beautiful cloth from Syria that Fr Christopher of blessed memory gave to me.

The lectern from where I read morning and evening prayer each day( and the Lord’s prayer at midday)is composed of a chair with five cushions, a throw and a runner. Unseasonal I know but effective none the less. You will notice my silent server in the corner Katharis…always there ready to wash my hands before the services.

Then there is my Vestry….well actually you guessed it, it’s a chair with my Vestments on it. Glory to God by His mercy He provides us with everything we need!

Today God supplied me with some parsley and thyme from my little garden which made the spaghetti and tomato sauce for my evening meal taste even better! Glory to God for the little things.

My love and prayers

The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustinnyk — 1


The Diary of a Pustinnyk of my heart, “Remember the Little things“, #1

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst.

In these difficult times, the Church is closed but the Church continues as the people of God “the living stones” and by the grace of God, the faithful continue to be connected in that Communion of Saints on earth and in heaven through prayer, calls, emails and texts.

As we use this quiet and stillness not only to deepen our prayer but to reflect more deeply on the calling of our faith as the people of God, it is good to “remember [and record] the little things” as St David of Wales said.

Allow me then to introduce to you, the diary of a Pustinnyk [Hermit] of my heart, “Remember the Little things“, and follow it day by day, as he reflects and prays for all of us.


Remember the Little things #Day 1

Dear  Friends in  Christ,

May God bless you all 


As we are all too aware- we can have no visitors but God has a way of teaching us His ways. A huge bumblebee flew in through my “Office” window upstairs at the back of my house, as if to remind me that Christ’s work must go on. The weather yesterday (Friday) was warm and sunny 21 c.! I quickly closed my curtains and the bee found his way out. Lo and behold a few hours later the same bee (I am sure )found it’s way into my front bedroom window. Again I closed the curtains, I told him ” No visitors allowed!” and he flew out. To see a bumblebee in March in England is in itself is quite remarkable but to see the same visitor twice, once in the morning when the sun is in the east and once in the afternoon when the sun is in the west is even more remarkable. This little visitor reminded me of St Paisios words:

Let us strive dear brothers and sisters for the sweet things and make every effort to climb step by step nearer to God in the holiness of life.


*It is good to” remember the little things” as St David of Wales said. 

Fear of Death

st joseph hesychast

“Listen to another story. Once a nun wrote to me to say that she was ill and would die if she didn’t have an operation. I wrote to her saying exactly the opposite. She wrote back saying that the doctor told her that she would die in so many days if she didn’t have an operation. I repeated my request, “Have faith; leave it all to God; prefer death .”
Later she sent me her response saying that the illness went away.

Do you see? I have experienced this thousand of times. When you put death before you and await it at every moment, it flees far away from you. When you fear death, it constantly pursues you.

I buried three people with tuberculosis, nourishing the hope that I would catch it. After I undressed the corpse, I wore his clothes, but death fled away from me to those who fear it. I have been ill my whole life. I have never had any treatment. I absolutely eat the wrong foods. But death is nowhere in sight.

What I am trying to say is that without the will of the Lord, we neither get sick nor die. Therefore, far away from us. O lack of faith!”

-Saint Joseph the Hesychast
Monastic Wisdom
Thirtieth Letter

The Causes of the Pandemic – photo journal from the Sunday of the Cross (Audio)

The Causes of the Pandemic - (C) Vatopedi monastery, Mount Athos

Many ask us what the causes of the pandemic COVID-19 are, if it is a natural phenomenon, or if there are state-level actors who generated this epidemic.

We need to understand that this way of thinking is distorted.

Don’t blame others

We must first think why perfect God has allowed this to happen to us. Nothing is accidental.

So, the cause is us, our sins. Since it is a general pain, it is clearly shown that this sin is a general one—and this due to indifference to spiritual matters, indifference to God.

Thus, we deserve separation from services and Holy Communion, due to the general indifference of those who know almost nothing about faith, and those who know about faith but do not mourn and pray for their state and society in general.

We must cry and pray intensely, patiently and hopefully, waiting for the solution. That is how the problems are solved. …

For the rest of the blogpost, the Photogallery of Vatopedi monastery litany around the main church (katholikon) and a live recording from the feast with the troparion of the Holy Cross, go to Ascetic Experience



Not the famous one by Kipling, but the Bible’s 

but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” [THE GOSPEL The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark. (9:17-31)–4th Sunday of Lent]

If, αν, если, dacă is a very small word but it has a large range of interpretations from the negative desperation of hopeless regret “If only”- to positive intention, intervention and the releasing potential. “If” – “If we do this her life will be saved.” If “ is a word upon which faith can be strengthened or weakened.

The Athenians send a message to the Spartans: “If we come to your city, we will burn it to the ground” to which the stoic Spartans replied just one word “If”! Such can be the tenacious force of the word. If is one of the saddest words too- “If only I had acted sooner“: “ if only I had not said those unkind words.”

Martha and Mary on the falling asleep of their brother Lazarus said to Jesus “If only you had been here, our brother would not have died!”

“If” is one of satan’s favourite words. When the devil tempted Our Lord in the wilderness he prefixed each temptation with the word” if”:

If you are the Son of God prove it!!

If you are the Son of God turn these stones into bread

If you are the Son of God throw yourself down …. “and the angels will bear you up lest you hit your foot against the stone.” Yes even Satan can quote scripture Psalm 90

If you fall down and worship me I will give you all these kingdoms.

“If only” are words which are full of regret but it is not necessarily full of repentance. Repentance means moving and trying again and moving forward not looking back.

We have within us deeply rooted weaknesses, passions, and defects. This can not all be cut out with one sharp motion, but patience, persistence, care and attention. The path leading to perfection is long. Pray to God so that he will strengthen you. Patiently accept your falls and, having stood up, immediately run to God, not remaining in that place where you have fallen. Do not despair if you keep falling into your old sins. Many of them are strong because they have received the force of habit. Only with the passage of time and with fervour will they be conquered. Don’t let anything deprive you of hope. 
(St. Nectarios of Aegina, Path to Happiness, 3)

This is the If that we find in the Bible, in the Psalms and the Prophets and in the Gospels.  “If God is for us, who is against us?” Rom 8:30

“If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will love him…” John 14:23

The man in today’s Gospel brought his child and said to Jesus “If you can do anything….” This cry was an “if” born from despair and voiced against the power of the One who works miracles. Our Lord turns this round and God addresses the man’s lack of faith; not if I can, but if you can believe. If only we can believe all things are possible. The positive if lies not with God, of course, He can do anything but it lies with us. God’s everlasting love and power are boundless. Like the man whose tears showed his repentance, we may find ourselves saying likewise:” Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

Do we see a mother with her child in her arms and bending to give the child a kiss, her heart overflowing with emotion? Do we notice how her face lights up as she holds her little angel? These things do not escape a person with the love of God. He sees them and is impressed by them and he says, ‘If only I had those emotions towards my God, towards my Holy Lady and our saints!’ Look, that’s how we must love Christ our God. You desire it, you want it, and with the grace of God you acquire it.”

― Elder Porphyrios, Wounded by Love

In these difficult and testing times we must and again become people of prayer, people of perseverance, people of hope, people of zeal, people of faith, people of God; we must again become Christians.

4th Sunday of Lent Homily — Fr. Jonathan Hemmings

Holy and Life ­Giving Cross at Lancaster (United Kingdom)


Please Share Coronavirus Pandemic Vigilant Prayer

IMG_1699 2

Meanwhile, in Syria

Dear brothers and sisters,

Christ is in our midst.

Here is the link to a time table to pray the Jesus Prayer in the time of the Pandemic crisis. Please choose your time slot to pray the Jesus prayer for 15 minutes for the world. 

You can have more than one slot if you like and apparently, there is an option for people to have the same time slot if they use a comma or semicolon but it would seem best to use the available spaces first. The time zone can be altered depending upon where you are in the world.

*  Please share with your Orthodox friends.


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.