The Coronavirus Diary of a Pustinnyk — 11

angel oak tree

1500-year-old Angel Oak tree in South Carolina

Remember the Little Things — Day #11

I love trees. Trees are magnificent in their audacious grandeur; sown in the dark soil they seek the light.

The trees which were bare a month ago are now in full bloom. Spring has come with all its glorious plenary pulchritude. We thank God for such beauty. Trees offer shade and colour; they even take our carbon dioxide and exchange it for oxygen. Trees are the lungs of the world.

The newly glorified Saint Amphilochios of Patmos (1888-1970) said: ” Whoever does not love trees, does not love God.”

 In these hard times, it is a temptation to become despondent; but this spirit comes from the evil one. Our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) like the roots in the soil. Our faith can defy the weight of oppression like the sap which defies gravity through capillary action. Our lives can extend to all like the branches. If we have the will, with that awesome synergy which is Christ’s gracious dialogue with us, through His mercy and our hard work, we may bloom in holiness and bear fruit that will last.

Hearts of Oak

Theme: Despondency

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Luke 6:44: “For every tree is known by its own fruit.

“When despondency seizes us, let us not give in to it. Rather, fortified and protected by the light of faith, let us with great courage say to the spirit of evil: “What are you to us, you who are cut off from God, a fugitive for Heaven, and a slave of evil? You dare not do anything to us: Christ, the Son of God, has dominion over us and over all. Leave us, you thing of bane. We are made steadfast by the uprightness of His Cross. Serpent, we trample on your head.”

St. Seraphim of Sarov

 

“It was said of Abba John the Dwarf that one day he said to his elder brother, ”I should like to be free of all care, like the angels who do not work, but ceaselessly offer worship to God. ”So he took leave of his brother and went away in the desert. After a week he came back to his brother. When he knocked on the door he heard his brother say,” Who are you?” before he opened it. He said,” I am John, your brother.” But he replied,” John has become an angel and henceforth is no longer among men.” Then John besought him, saying,” It is I.” However, his brother did not let him in but left him there in distress until morning. Then, opening the door, he said to him, “You are a man and you must once again work in order to eat.” Then John made a prostration before him, saying,” Forgive me.” 

 

I hear Lord, there was once a Tree planted here in this place

 A Tree so fine and so splendid, a Tree full of beauty and grace.

  “Who planted this Tree of Life Lord here in this garden?

 It’s said that its fruit was so sweet and had the gift of peace and pardon

 Who tended this Tree in its youth Lord when it was growing into the light?

 When the gales blew and the storms raged in the middle of the night.

 Who first saw this Tree bud and blossom into flower

 As the sap of its spirit gave joy to each hour?

 Who watered this Tree Lord when it was parched and dry

 When some men ate of its labour and others wagged heads and passed by?

 Who cut down its branches where the birds of the air made a nest?

 Didn’t they taste of its fruit Lord, did not they know it was best?

 Who cut the Tree down to the ground Lord whilst it was rich in finest full bloom?

 There must have been more than one axe Lord, to bring about such a doom.

 But look Lord I see a young sapling springing from out of its roots

 And what wondrous a sight to behold Lord, there are thousands and thousands of shoots!

 What is this Garden called Father, is it Eden, what mystical name please impart?

 “The Tree is my Son, my young gardener and the garden my child is your heart.”

 

My love

Eν Χριστώ

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The Noonday Demon

 

Audio Homily by St. Porphyrios (with English Subtitles)

+St. Porphyrios, 2 December

May God bless the person who took the prayerful effort to translate this into English. What a wealth of wisdom and divine illumination! May we have his blessing!

st porphyrios

Beating Christmas (and Life) Blues

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“My God, I cannot ‘stand’ your Love, because It is Immense and there is no place for It in my small heart ” (Translation of the scroll)

  1. Blessed are those who love Christ more than all the worldly things and live far from the world and near God, with heavenly joys upon the earth.

  2. Blessed are those who manage to live in obscu­rity and acquired great virtues but did not acquire even a small name for themselves.

  3. Blessed are those who manage to act the fool and, in this way, protected their spiritual wealth 

 

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4. Blessed are those who do not preach the Gospel with words, but live it and preach it with their silence, with the Grace of God, which betrays them.

  5. Blessed are those who rejoice when unjustly ac­cused, rather than when they are justly praised for their virtuous life. Here are the signs of holiness, not in the dry exertion of bodily asceticism and the great number of struggles, which, when not carried out with humility and the aim to take off the old man, create only illusions.

  6. Blessed are those who prefer to be wronged rather than to wrong others and accept serenely and silently injustices. In this way, they reveal in practice that they believe in “one God, the Father Almighty” and expect to be vindicated by Him and not by human beings who repay in this life with vanity.
 

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7. Blessed are those who have been born crippled or became so due to their own carelessness, yet do not grumble but glorify God. They will hold the best place in Paradise along with the Confessors and Martyrs, who gave their hands and feet for the love of Christ and now constantly kiss with devoutness the hands and feet of Christ in Paradise.

  8. Blessed are those who were born ugly and are de­spised here on earth, because they are entitled to the most beautiful place in Paradise, provided they glorify God and do not grumble.

  9. Blessed are those widows who wear black in this life, even unwillingly, but live a white spiritual life and glorify God without complaining, rather than the mis­erable ones who wear assorted clothes and live a spot­ted life.

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10. Blessed and thrice blessed are the orphans who have been deprived of their parents’ great affection, for they managed to have God as their Father already from this life. At the same time, they have the affection they were deprived of from their parents in God’s savings bank “with interest”.

  11. Blessed are those parents who avoid the use of the word “don’t” with their children, instead restraining them from evil through their holy life – a life which chil­dren imitate, joyfully following Christ with spiritual bravery.

  12. Blessed are those children who have been born “from their mother’s womb”(Mt. 19:12) holy, but even more blessed are those who were born with all the inherited passions of the world, struggled with sweat and up­rooted them and inherited the Kingdom of God in the sweat of their face (Cf. Gen. 3:19).

 

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13. Blessed are those children who lived from in­fancy in a spiritual environment and, thus, tirelessly ad­vanced in the spiritual life.

Thrice blessed, however, are the mistreated ones who were not helped at all (on the contrary, they were pushed towards evil), but as soon as they heard of Christ, their eyes glistened, and with a one hundred and eighty degree turn they suddenly made their soul to shine as well. They departed from the attraction of earth and moved into the spiritual sphere.

  14. Fortunate, worldly people say, are the astronauts who are able to spin in the air, orbit the moon or even walk on the moon.

Blessed, however, are the immaterial “Paradise-nauts”, who ascend often to God and travel about Paradise, their place of permanent abode, with the quickest of means and without much fuel, besides one crust of bread.

15. Blessed are those who glorify God for the moon that glimmers that they might walk at night.

More blessed, however, are those who have come to understand that neither the light of the moon is of the moon, nor the spiritual light of their soul of them­selves, but both are of God. Whether they can shine like a mirror, a pane of glass or the lid of a tin can, if the rays of the sun do not fall on them, it is impossible for them to shine.

 

 

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16. Fortunate, worldly people tell us, are those who live in crystal palaces and have all kinds of conven­iences.

Blessed, however, are those who have managed to sim­plify their life and become liberated from the web of this world’s development of numerous conveniences (i.e. many inconveniences), and were released from the frightening stress of our present age.

 

 17. Fortunate, worldly people say, are those who can enjoy the goods of the world.

Blessed, however, are those who give away every­thing for Christ and are deprived even of every hu­man consolation for Christ. Thus it is that they man­age to be found night and day near Christ and His di­vine consolation, which many times is so much that they say to God: “My God, Thy love cannot be en­dured, for it is great and cannot be fit within my small heart”.

  18. Fortunate, worldly people say, are those who have the greatest jobs and the largest mansions, since they possess all means and live comfortably.

Blessed, however, according to the divine Paul, are those who have but a nest to perch in, a little food and some coverings99• For, in this way, they’ve managed to become estranged from the vain world, using the earth as a footstool, as children of God, and their mind is con­stantly found close to God, their Good Father.

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  19. Fortunate are those who become generals and government ministers in their head by way of heavy drinking (even if just for a few hours), with the world­ly rejoicing over it.

Blessed, however, are those who have put off the old man and have become incorporeal, managing to be earthly angels with the Holy Spirit. They have found Paradise’s divine faucet and drink from it and are con­tinually inebriated from the heavenly wine.

  20. Blessed are those who were born crazy and will be judged as crazy, and, in this way, will enter Paradise without a passport.

Blessed and thrice blessed, however, are the very wise who feign foolishness for the love of Christ and mock all the vanity of the world. This foolishness for Christ’s sake is worth more than all the knowledge and wisdom of the wise of this world.

 

 

I beg all the Sisters to pray for God to give me, or rather take from me my little mind, and, in this way, se­cure Paradise for me by considering me a fool. Or, make me crazy with His love so I go out my self, outside of the earth and its pull, for, otherwise my life as a monk has no meaning. I became externally white as a monk. As I go I become internally black by being a negligent monk, but I justify myself as one unhealthy, when I hap­pen to be so; other times, I excuse myself again for be­ing ill, even though I am well, and so I deserve to be thoroughly thrashed. Pray for me.

 

May Christ and Panagia be with you,

With love of Christ, Your Brother, Monk Paisios

(“Timiou Stavrou”, December 2, 1972).

 

“Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger.
“Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did
to the false prophets… (Lk. 6:24-30)
“The Beatitudes” with Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain (Taken from the Elder’ Sixth Epistle

“…

Sister Abbess Philothei, Your blessing,

Today, a kind of craziness took hold of me and I took the pencil, as does the madman who writes his outbursts on the wall with charcoal, and I sat down to write my own things on paper like one crazed, and, again, like a lunatic, to send them to you in writ­ing. I am doing this latter craziness out of much love for my Sisters, that they might be edified, even if only a little.

The reason for the initial craziness was five let­ters, one after the other, from various parts of Greece on a variety of subjects. While the events described were great blessings of Godthose who wrote to me had fallen into despair because they dealt with them in a worldly way. 

After replying accordingly to their letters, I took the pencil like a madman, as I have said, and wrote this epistle. I believe that even a fifty-cent piece from your journeying brother will be something toward a flint for each one of the Sisters so as to light a little candle in her cell and offer her doxology to our Good God.

I feel great joy when every Sister, with her particu­lar cross carries out the equivalent struggle with philo­timo. 

It is a small thing to give to Christ a heart equal in size and as luminous as the sun out of gratitude for His great gifts, and especially for the particular honour He showed us monks by conscripting us with personal sum­mons to His Angelic Order.

A great honour also belongs to the parents who were thus made worthy of becoming related to God. Unfor­tunately, however, most parents do not realize this and, instead of being grateful to God, are infuriated etc., for they see everything in a worldly way, like those people I mentioned earlier, who became the reason for me to take the pencil and write everything that follows. …”

 

 

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