Saturday, December 26, 2015

Une Lettre à l’occasion de Noël
Pour chaque moine et moniale.

Le monastère
Sanctuaire de prière
Et de repentir pour le Créateur…
   
   Au monastère il n’y a aucun problème qui se passe avec nous, sauf si nous sommes inconscients qu’on est pécheur!!.
   Celui qui vient au monastère, y vient parce qu’il est conscient que le monde le répugne.
   Le monde le répugne non pas parce qu’il prétend le juger, mais parce qu’il a percé sa laideur dans ce monde, ainsi il s’enfuit de lui-même… où part-il ?... "Auprès de toi j’ai cherché refuge" !!… Il se hâte vers le Seigneur, au monastère où aura lieu une opération quotidienne pour nettoyer de ses impuretés … Bienheureux celui qui vient au monastère reconnaissant qu’il s’y réfugie pour nettoyer ses saletés, pour se libérer de ses habitudes, de ce qu’il a hérité… non pas parce qu’il est moins bien que les autres…

Une Lettre à l’occasion de Noël
Pour chaque moine et moniale.

Le monastère
Sanctuaire de prière
Et de repentir pour le Créateur…
   
   Au monastère il n’y a aucun problème qui se passe avec nous, sauf si nous sommes inconscients qu’on est pécheur!!.
   Celui qui vient au monastère, y vient parce qu’il est conscient que le monde le répugne.
   Le monde le répugne non pas parce qu’il prétend le juger, mais parce qu’il a percé sa laideur dans ce monde, ainsi il s’enfuit de lui-même… où part-il ?... "Auprès de toi j’ai cherché refuge" !!… Il se hâte vers le Seigneur, au monastère où aura lieu une opération quotidienne pour nettoyer de ses impuretés … Bienheureux celui qui vient au monastère reconnaissant qu’il s’y réfugie pour nettoyer ses saletés, pour se libérer de ses habitudes, de ce qu’il a hérité… non pas parce qu’il est moins bien que les autres…

Saint Basil and the young man
who renounced Christ.

   Helladius, a virtuous and holy man who served first as the great Basil's assistant, then as his successor, and who witnessed his miracles, related the following. An Orthodox senator named Proterius, visiting the Holy Places, conceived the notion of dedicating his daughter to God as a nun. At the same time the devil, the primordial hater of everything good, stirred up lust for the girl in the heart of one of the senator's slaves. The servant knew that the maiden was far above his reach, so he confessed his secret to a sorcerer, promising much gold in exchange for help winning the girl's hand. At first the sorcerer refused to become entangled in the matter, but was finally persuaded and said, "If you wish, I will send you to my master, the devil. He will help you, if you agree to carry out his instructions."
   The wretched servant promised, "I will do whatever he commands."
   "Are you ready to sign a document attesting that you renounce Christ?," asked the wizard.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Prince of peace is born!.

He Who made the ages, and existed before the ages,
and in profound silence created
the heavenly Powers of the holy angels.

   Christ is born to save everyone. Therefore, rejoice and exult with the angels and shepherds and all of creation, beloved children of Jesus.
   First of all, like the Magi, I bring you the splendid news that our sweet Jesus is born, and all creation exults and is fragrant, for it sees its Creator held in the Virgin's arms. The angels rejoice together with it and chant melodically, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace!". For God, the Prince of peace, is born - He Who made the ages, and existed before the ages, and in profound silence created the heavenly Powers of the holy angels. He is held today in the arms of His sweetest Mother. He is fed with milk and warmed in her bosom in order to save us all.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

La maladie nous fait osciller
entre Dieu et le néant.

Métropolite Georges Khodr.

   "La maladie porte toujours à la mélancolie, indépendamment du lieu où l'on se trouve. Je t'écris cela, non parce que je suis seul ici, sans autre lien avec le monde extérieur que le téléphone, mais parce que la maladie établit une distance entre l'homme et son corps. Sans maladie, il n'y a pas lieu de faire pareille distinction; la bonne santé est, par définition, l'expression de l'unité de la conscience avec la carcasse qu'elle habite. Quand on est fort, on se sent plein de fougue, prêt à affronter le temps qui vient. Le texte évangélique fait d'ailleurs appel à des images de guérison pour symboliser l'avènement du Royaume, source et point de rencontre de toute énergie, en affirmant que "les estropiés marcheront et les aveugles recouvreront la vue". En ce sens, la bonne santé est une image de la perfection.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Forty Liturgies.

Elder Daniel of Katounakia
   Elder Daniel recounted this story about Demetrius and his son George:
   "As soon as I arrived (in Smyrna), I considered it my inviolable duty to first of all visit George, the son of the ever­ memorable Demetrius." (Demetrius was a simple Christian, but his great virtue and piety had furnished him with wisdom "from on high," so that he became famous for his good counsels and admonitions. His wisdom and instructions had strengthened many souls, including Elder Daniel in his younger years.) "I questioned him minutely about the death of his father (Demetrius), of whose repose I had heard from many people”.
   In response to the wish of the monk from Katounakia, George described in detail the repose of his virtuous father, accompanying every point in the narrative with tears. One event was so remarkable that we must record it.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Account of Abbess Macrina
on Saint Porphyrios.

   In the vigil for the Entrance of the Theotokos in 1988, the Abbess of the Monastery of Kato Panagia in Arta, Greece, had come to the monastery of Elder Porphyrios together with her sisterhood. She recounts:
   The morning, after the vigil, we went, together, to the ordination of His Eminence the Metropolitan of Arta, Ignatios, in Athens. In the afternoon, we visited Elder Porphyrios, so that he could talk to the sisters and so that we could get his blessing.
   Father Porphyrios was in an exceptionally good mood and kept us for a long time. He talked to us about prayer of the nous and stressed there is no real prayer of the nous, if there is no real humility, which is acquired through obedience.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

With Fasting

Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch

   With fasting I gladden my hope in You, my Lord, Who are to come again.
   Fasting hastens my preparation for Your coming, the sole expectation of my days and nights.
   Fasting makes my body thinner, so that what remains can more easily shine with the spirit.
   While waiting for You, I wish neither to nourish myself with blood nor to take life, so that the animals may sense the joy of my expectation.
   But truly, abstaining from food will not save me. Even if I were to eat only the sand from the lake, You would not come to me, unless the fasting penetrated deeper into my soul.
   I have come to know through my prayer, that bodily fasting is more a symbol of true fasting, very beneficial for some­one who has only just begun to hope in You, and nevertheless very difficult for someone who merely practices it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Au sujet de Marthe de la ville de Saïdnaya.

La Sainte deux fois vierge Marie Mère de Dieu.
Que sa prière et sa bénédiction soient avec nous
dans les siècles des siècles, amen.

   Il était dans la ville de Saïdnaya une femme du nom de Marthe, très riche et élue.
   Un jour, elle songea qu'elle dissipait sa fortune en vain, comme le monde entier, et elle dit: "Quel profit pour moi, pour ma vie, ainsi que dit l'Évangile, si je gagne le monde entier et perds ma vie? Quel profit pour l'homme s'il ne donne (rien) en échange de sa vie?".
   Ayant médité ce propos, elle voulut faire le bien avec sa fortune et pesa longuement dans son cœur quelle œuvre était meilleure que toute (autre) bonne action.
   En cette heure, elle se remémora "qu'Abraham", l'ami de Dieu, avait été digne, en accueillant des étrangers, de recevoir la Trinité sainte dans sa maison.
   De même (en fut-il) également pour "Lot": grâce à son hospitalité, les deux archanges résidèrent dans sa maison".
   La sœur de "Lazare", "Marthe", aimait aussi beaucoup accueillir les pauvres; cette manière d'agir lui valut que sa maison devînt digne d'être le lieu de repos de Notre Seigneur lors de ses pérégrinations, le mois de la miséricorde et le jour du salut, ainsi qu'il est dit: Le Fils de Dieu sera appelé étranger.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

La fondation de la Famille de la Sainte-Trinité (2/2)

Mère Mariam

Avec le Métropolite Georges (Khodr) le jour où
Mère Mariam a reçu le bâton d'Higoumène
   Le monastère Saint Jean-Baptiste avait en effet été désaffecté de 1942 à 1990. Auparavant, sous l'occupation turque, la vie monastique, instable, avait dépendu de la situation politique et militaire. Pour situer les choses, rappelons que dans le Liban indépendant (1943), la première communauté monastique orthodoxe fut fondée en 1958 par le Père Elias (Marcos) à Deir- El- Harf. En prévision de la relance en ce lieu de la vie monastique, Mgr Georges [Khodr] avait demandé à l'Archimandrite Wadih Chalhoub, le prêtre de Douma, le village voisin, d'y faire quelques réparations. Ainsi, cinq petites chambres avaient été arrangées, au second étage, pour pouvoir accueillir les sœurs. Quant au Père Thomas, il était obligé de dormir dans une petite chambre très humide, aux murs tachetés de vert par la moisissure. Et le frère occupait une pièce en dehors du monastère.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

La fondation de la Famille de la Sainte-Trinité (1/2)

Mère Mariam

Père Thomas (Bitar) avec Mère Mariam (Zacca) 
au Monastère Saint Jean-Baptiste, Douma - Liban.
   C'était durant la guerre libanaise (1975- 1992), en 1983, à Furn-el-Cheback, dans une paroisse de la banlieue de Beyrouth, très fréquentée, notamment par des jeunes, malgré sa proximité des lignes de feu séparant un quartier chrétien d'un quartier musulman. C'était à Saint-Antoine-le-Grand, église que Mgr Georges [Khodr] avait confiée à l'Archimandrite Issam Bitar (Père Thomas) et à deux prêtres auxiliaires. M. Tony Khoury, alors Secrétaire Général du Mouvement de la Jeunesse Orthodoxe (M.J.O.), avait demandé à Houda Zakka (Mère Mariam) de travailler à étendre le mouvement dans cette paroisse, ce qu'elle accepta de faire. Peu à peu, par la grâce de Dieu et la bénédiction de Mgr Georges, grâce à la ferveur et au travail du Père Issam, des prêtres auxiliaires et de Houda Zakka (Mère Mariam), le mouvement grandit à Saint-Antoine-le-Grand : plus de soixante-dix enfants, et de cent cinquante à deux cents jeunes. Ceux-ci, en trois groupes: les élèves des classes secondaires, les étudiants universitaires et les travailleurs.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Towards a Spiritual Ecumenical Movement!.

   I do not wish, in this article, to evaluate the work of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (ECC), especially during the twenty and twenty-first centuries. At least, this is not the scope of this article. However, this will not prevent me from expressing my strong belief, that a true Church unity begins with seeking union with God! True unity between believers can only be the outcome of this union, either wise it is based on common benefit. Union with God means unity in Christ!. If we limit ourselves to wordings and formalities relating to God and focus, only, on the closeness of dogmatic expression, and the oneness of administrative settings, translating these into an arrangement leading to the Common Cup, we will not gain any value for the Church but rather cause harm. Thus, in the context of the multitude of the Churches, or the distinct individual groups, and the ensuing divergence between them caused by historical circumstances, it is useless to aspire for the unity of the institutions or, that is to say, the Churches as institutions. This, on the contrary, constitutes the main obstacle in the face of acquiring the desired unity!.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Qu’il faut supporter les tentations
avec actions de grâces.

Saint Dorothéos de Gaza

   On se pose souvent cette question : Si dans les adversités, la souffrance nous conduit au péché, comment peut-on penser qu'elles sont pour notre avantage?.
   Mais nous ne péchons en l'occurrence que parce que nous manquons de résignation et que nous ne voulons pas supporter la moindre peine ou souffrir quelque chose qui nous contrarie. Dieu, en effet, ne permet pas que nous soyons éprouvés au-delà de nos forces, comme le dit l'Apôtre : "Dieu est fidèle; il ne permettra pas que vous soyez tentés au-delà de ce que vous pouvez supporter" (I Cor 10,13). C'est nous qui n'avons pas de patience, qui ne consentons pas à peiner un peu, qui ne supportons pas de recevoir quoi que ce soit avec humilité. Aussi sommes-nous brisés par les tentations : plus nous nous efforçons de les fuir, plus nous en sommes accablés et découragés, sans même pouvoir en sortir.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Silence or a Vision of Eternal Rest.

This is a short handwritten manuscript handed over from Saint Ambrosios of Optina Monastery in Russia (whose feast is October 10) to Glebov:

   It was a wonderful time in spring… I could not resist its allurement to throw myself into nature’s embrace, and that paradise of spring, which I chose as a place of my daily visits, was the dark, thick forest situated on the high bank of a big, wider river (the Oka) that washes with its milky waters several central Russian provinces.
   Giving myself over to this blessed state in the bosom of nature, I drank in its aromatic breadth and went deeply into the spiritual apprehension of the Creator, Who is too immense to behold…
   The surrounding world from which I came forth then retreated from me to somewhere far away, and disappeared into the realm of concepts foreign from me…
   I was alone. Around me there was only the slumbering forest. Its ancient giants stretched far into the skies. They searched for God. I was also in search for Him.
   But suddenly, I am outside of the forest, somewhere far away, in another world, quite unknown to me, never seen by me, never imagined by me… Around me there is bright white light! Its transcendence is so pure and enticing that I am submerged, along with my perception, into limitless depths and cannot completely fill myself with its lofty spirituality.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

L’humilité

Selon Saint Silouane L’Athonite.

   Le but de notre combat, c'est de trouver l'humilité. Nos ennemis sont tombés par l'orgueil et ils nous attirent dans leur chute. Mais nous, frères, humilions-nous, et alors nous verrons la Gloire du Seigneur déjà ici sur terre (Matthieu 16,28), car aux humbles le Seigneur se fait connaître par le Saint-Esprit.
   Notre guerre est rude, remplie de sagesse et, en même temps, simple. Si l'âme aime l'humilité, tous les filets de nos ennemis sont rompus, toutes les forteresses sont prises. Dans notre combat spirituel, i1 nous faut aussi soigneusement veiller à ce que les munitions et les vivres ne manquent pas. Les munitions, c'est notre humilité ; les vivres, c'est la grâce divine. Si nous les perdons, nos ennemis nous vaincront,
   Cette guerre est acharnée, mais seulement pour les orgueilleux ; pour les humbles, par contre, elle est facile, parce qu'ils aiment le Seigneur et qu'Il leur donne son arme puissante: la grâce du Saint- Esprit. Nos ennemis redoutent cette arme, car elle les brûle.
   Je te rends grâce, mon Seigneur et mon Créateur, de ce que, dans ta bonté, tu aies humilié mon âme et m'aies révélé la voie qu'ont suivie tes Saints. Tu aimes ceux qui pleurent et c'est par la voie des larmes que tous les Saints sont arrivés à Toi. [ ... ] Accorde-moi, Seigneur miséricordieux, à moi aussi, de venir à Toi par la voie de tes Saints que Tu m’as montrée, celle de l'humilité et des pleurs.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Joint Icon of Saint Silouan and Saint Theckla

Saint Silouan the Athonite 
Saint Thekla the Holy Protomartyr and equal to the Apostles

Feast day 24 September


The Holy Proto martyr Thecla,
Equal to the Apostles.

Feast day 24 September

Fresco in the Nativity of the Mother of God Church
St John the Baptist Monastery - Douma - Lebanon
   Thecla was born in Iconium of eminent pagan parents. She was betrothed at the age of eighteen to a young man, at the time that the Apostle Paul came to Iconium with Barnabas to preach the Gospel. Listening to Paul for three days and nights, Thecla turned utterly to the Christian faith and vowed to live in virginity. Her mother, seeing that she shunned her betrothed and thought no more of marriage, first talked to her and then beat her and starved her. Finally, she gave her over to the judges and demanded, wicked mother that she was, that Thecla be burned. The judge threw her into the flames, but God preserved her unharmed. Thecla then became a follower of the Apostle Paul, and went with him to Antioch.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

La Croix de notre Seigneur

Homélie de Saint Jean Chrysostome

Fresco Holy Trinity Church -
St John the Baptist Monastery -  Douma - Lebanon
   Aujourd'hui voit Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ sur la croix, et nous en fête, afin qu’on apprenne que la croix est fête, et fête solennelle dans sa spiritualité. Autrefois, la croix était le nom de la condamnation, elle est maintenant devenue objet d'honneur. Autrefois symbole de mort, aujourd’hui principe de salut. Car elle a été cause pour nous de biens innombrables : elle nous a délivrés de l'erreur, elle nous a éclairés alors que nous étions dans les ténèbres ; vaincus, elle nous a réconciliés avec Dieu ; ennemis, elle nous a rendu l'amitié de Dieu ; éloignés, elle nous a rapprochés de lui. Destruction de l'inimitié, garantie de paix, et trésor de mille biens. Grâce à elle, nous n'errons plus dans les déserts, mais nous connaissons la vraie route ; nous n'habitons plus hors du palais royal, car nous avons trouvé la porte, nous ne craignons plus les flèches de feu du démon, car nous avons découvert une source. Grâce à la croix, nous ne sommes plus dans le veuvage, nous avons reçu l'Epoux ; nous ne vivons plus dans la crainte du loup, car nous avons le bon Berger : Je suis le bon Berger dit-il.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Most Holy Mother of God Save Us!...

Iconostasis of the Nativity of the Forerunner Church
   On the 6th of August we celebrated the “Transfiguration of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” on the mountain. And the mountain is thought to be the “Mount of Thabor”. There, the appearance of the Lord Jesus changed and His clothes became white shining like snow and His disciples saw that.
   The light that the disciples saw on the mountain, that which made the garments of the Lord Jesus shine like snow, is the Light of Theology. The Lord Jesus was, and still is, and will remain forever God and the second hypostasis of the Holy Trinity.  Thus, this light is the Uncreated Light. It is the Light that shines from the Essence of God. This is the Divine Light. The remarkable thing is – and Saint Marc the Evangelist is the only one to speak about the glistening of the clothes of the Lord Jesus and how they became exceedingly white like snow – that the Lord Jesus Christ encompassed the Divine totally which glowed through His body and through His garments.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

God always provides for our goods

   God is kind by nature and always provides for our good and, when we ask Him for something, He will pro­vide it, as long as it is for our good. Whatever is necessary for the salvation of our soul and for the maintenance of our physical existence, God will provide it in abundance, and we'll have His blessing. Whatever He deprives us of, either to test us or to protect us, we accept with joy as well as with thoughtfulness, as it is for our benefit. God knows when and how to provide for His creation. He helps in His own way at the right time. However, often His weak creation is anxiously impatient because the moment we ask for something, we want to receive it, like a little child who wants the cookie from its mother even before it is baked. We shall ask, we shall be patient and when it is ready, our Good Mother, Panaghia, will give it to us.
   - Geronda, when do the Saints help?
   - Whenever it is necessary to help and not when we think it is time to help. In other words, they help when it will be beneficial for us. Do you understand? A child, for example, asks his father for a motorcycle, but the father doesn't buy it. The child then says, "I want the motorcycle because I get tired walking to school, to work." Still the father doesn't buy it because he is afraid of the dangers involved. "I will buy you a car later when you grow up," he tells his son. So they put the money in the bank and when enough money has been saved and the boy is more mature, they'll buy him a car. In the same way, the Saints know when they should help us.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

St Tikhon Zadonsk Last Homily

(feast day 13/26 August)

   Tikhon's voice was heard for the last time when his will was read at his funeral, which in its triumphant praise of God had pierced through all his earthly trials and conflicts.
   Glory to God, for he has created me in his image and likeness!. Glory to God, who redeemed me, the fallen one; Glory to God, for he was the providence of my unworthy self. Glory, for he called me, a sinner, to repentance!. Glory, for he has handed to me his Holy Word as a lamp shining in a dark place, and by it He taught me the true way. Glory to God, for He has illumined the eyes of my heart!. He has granted me to know His Holy Name!. Glory to God, for He has washed away my sins in the waters of baptism!. Glory, for He has shown me the way to eternal bliss. And this way is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who says of Himself: "I am the way, the truth and the life." Glory to Him, for He did not ruin me in my sin but in His mercy was patient to my transgressions!. Glory to God, for He has shown to me the vain enticements and vanity of this world. Glory to God, for He has helped me in the multi­tude of temptations, grieves and tribulations!.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

On the Mother of God

Saint Silouan the Athonite

Fresco in the church of the Nativity of the Mother of God
Saint John the Baptist Monastery - Douma - Lebanon
   When the soul abides in the love of God - how good and gracious and festive all things are! But even with God's love, sorrows continue and the greater the love, the greater the sorrow. Never by a single thought did the Mother of God sin, nor did she ever lose grace, yet vast were her sorrows; when she stood at the foot of the Cross her grief was as boundless as the ocean and her soul knew torment incomparably worse than Adam's when he was driven from paradise, in that the measure of her love was beyond compare greater than the love which Adam felt when he was in paradise. That she remained alive was only because the Lord's might sustained her, for it was His desire that she should behold His Resurrection, and live on after His Ascension to be the comfort and joy of the Apostles and the new Christian peoples.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Transfiguration of our Lord and God
and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Fresco in the Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God
Saint John the Baptist Monastery
   In the third year of His ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke more frequently to His disciples of His coming Passion, but linked it always with His glory after His suffering on the Cross. That His coming suffering should not utterly shatter His disciples, so that they fall away from Him, He, the all-Wise, decided to show them, before His Passion, something of His divine glory. He therefore, taking with Him Peter, James and John, went by night onto Mount Tabor and was there transfigured before them. "And His face shone as the sun, and His raiment became white as snow", and there appeared beside Him Moses and Elias, the great prophets of the Old Testament. And the disciples saw and were amazed, and Peter said: "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if Thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles: one for Thee, one for Moses and one for Elias."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Concerning Trials

   
They are Blessings
   Events which now seem like misfortunes, later on, prove to be God's blessings.
   
Trial and Reward
   Let us not reconcile the unreconcilable to avoid the cross and to secure our ease. Let us not seek little pillows on which to rest our guilty conscience. Because then, God will allow us both to suffer harsh trials and also not have a reward in heaven.

The Purpose of Afflictions
   If afflictions did not exist, we would not seek Paradise.

Just Like Operations!.
   We should accept afflictions just as we accept the hardship of a surgical operation in order to secure our health. Pain humbles man. And the more he is humbled, the more he approaches God.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Miracle Wrought Through Almsgiving

   In speaking of the significance of almsgiving and mercy, Fr. Cleopa stressed the importance of these virtues by relating the following story:
   Emperor Nicephorus of Constantinople reigned from 1078 until 1081. He decided to build a cathedral that would be almost as grand as St. Sophia. When it was ready, the patriarch of Jerusalem, the patriarch of Alexandria as well as the patriarch of Constantinople were all invited to consecrate the beautiful new church built by the emperor. Announcements had been made about the consecration for several months in advance so that everyone would have time to travel to the great city of Constantinople; remember that during that time there were no cars, planes or trains. Everyone had to travel either in carts pulled by oxen, horses or donkeys, and those from great distances had to cross the sea in boats.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saint Macrina the Elder

The Bridge of Theology

The Holy family and Saint Macrina the elder at its head
   She is called “confessor of the Faith.” In her family there are so many saints that she is known as the “mother and grandmother of saints”. She should be given another title­ - Bridge of Theology - for her invisible contribution to the understanding of our faith and its expression in the world.
   Born about AD 270, Saint Macrina the Elder grew up as a pagan. Most of the city she lived in was pagan until Saint Gregory Thaumaturgis arrived.


   The Heritage of Saint Gregory
   Saint Gregory Thaumaturgis and his brother, both pagans and thirsty for learning, traveled to Alexandria as young men to study philosophy. It was there that some of the most influential meta­physical work was being conducted. The two men arrived at the peak of the "flowering of a tradition that had flourished at Alexandria" since the first century of Christian thought - the melding of early Christian thought and pagan philosophy that has given rise to our modern understanding of Christian faith and theology.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Lettre à David Balfour (XV)

Archimandrite Sophrony

Les afflictions sont le signe de la faveur de Dieu. - De la vaillance dans les afflictions qui sont l'essence de la bienveillance de Dieu envers nous. Rendre grâce à Dieu pour celles-ci. Les afflictions sont le chemin vers la déification.

Mont Athos, 21 janvier (3 février) 1933.
   
Vénéré Père David, Bénissez!

   Frère bien-aimé dans le Seigneur, paix à votre âme dans le Seigneur.
   Notre vie est «un flot irrésistible» (Septante, Ps. 123,4). Ce ne sont pas seulement les débutants, - tels que nous, aspirant seulement à nous engager sur la voie de l'ascèse -, qui sont éprouvés. Les pères parfaits qui avaient atteint les hauteurs ultimes de la contemplation, eux non plus, ne demeuraient pas inébranlables. Ne soyez pas troublé par les afflictions et les incertitudes qui s'emparent de vous, mais tenez ferme par la foi quand les vents changent, c'est-à-dire les états d'âme. A cet égard, il est bon de nous affermir dans la conscience de ce que toutes les tentations qui nous arrivent sont d'un grand profit: elles enseignent la lutte spirituelle, elles permettent de se connaitre soi-même. Une âme vaillante doit même aimer les tentations car, en les surmontant, elle devient plus forte, plus ferme, plus expérimentée, plus sage: elle devient capable de s'élever vers la contemplation.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Miraculous Healing

   One day, I entered the office of Fr. Sophrony. I used to always seek for an opportunity to have contact with him. I would go two or three, or several times a day to see him. I never asked questions, but I always knew that he would say something to me, and every time he said something, it was an opening of a horizon, of a spiritual horizon. There were many times when just one word made me understand many things from the lives of the prophets and of the holy apostles and of the saints; just one word.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sickness and death of children

   God does sometimes call children to martyrdom or all martyric suffering in their lives. A child's illness is a trial of faith and endurance for all concerned, not least the parents. They have to bear it while at the same time strengthening their child and his brothers and sisters. God's Providence for the sanctification of His children is always a blessing, but sometimes the blessing comes heavily disguised.  
   Sick children are often imbued with faith and wisdom beyond their years - in many cases, beyond their parents’ own faith too. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them” [Mark 10:14, Luke 18:16]. If we are able to do this, they, and we too, will grow. The ill child is often the teacher, keeping our trust in the Lord alive even while our hearts bleed.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

La théologie des offices liturgiques
en l'honneur du Précurseur



Mural dans l'église de
Saint Jean le Baptiste - Douma - Liban
   En nous penchant de près sur les textes liturgiques composés pour ces solennités en l'honneur de saint Jean le Baptiste nous pourrons juger de la place de la figure du Précurseur dans la théologie orthodoxe. Nous nous proposons d'analyser quelques expressions relevées de manière non exhaustive dans l'hymnographie byzantine de ces fêtes.
   L'Ange du Christ
   L'hymnographie byzantine parle du Précurseur comme de "l'Ange du Christ" ou de "l'Ange de Dieu". Ces deux expressions synonymes, jouant sur le terme grec "άγγελος" signifiant à la fois ange et messager, font écho à la prophétie de Malachie, reprise dans l'Évangile de Matthieu, où le Seigneur affirme:
   J'enverrai mon messager (mon ange) devant ta face, qui préparera ta voie devant toi (Mal 3,1; Mt 11,10).
   Selon les paroles du Christ lui-même (Mt 11,10), c'est de Jean le Baptiste qu'il s'agissait dans ce passage.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Abesses Paisia and Magdalena of Sevsk Convent.

   We are recounting here the story of two disciples of Saint Macarius of Optina (+ 1860).

   “Mother Paisia” was born in 1740, and in 1779 became Abbess of the “Sevsk Convent”, not far from Optina. She was an outstanding abbess, quite influential in her neighboring area. She kept the Convent under strict surveillance, upholding in it the principles of monastic life. It was once visited by Elder Athanasius of Ploschansk (the disciple of Saint Paissius Velichkovsky), together with his disciple Macarius of Optina and Elder Basil Kishkin, the restorer of Glinsk Monastery. This visit left a deep impression on the sisters of the Convent, influencing them to read the writings of the Holy Fathers. Even young girls read these writings, learning The Ladder of Divine Ascent almost by heart. During Elder Athanasius' lifetime, Elder Macarius was made the official spiritual father of the Sevsk Convent. There were several very holy nuns in this Convent, some of them virtual saints.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

On Saints and Divine Love

   How great and how many are the athletes of virtue, the saints and with which crowns they are decked, is clearly demonstrated by the accounts written on them. Even if they don’t contain all their contest, yet even a few suffice to show the character of the life they have lead. It is not by wearing away all the gold that is applied to it but by being rubbed against a little of it that a stone shows to be a good coin or bad. Likewise in the case of an archer, one could learn accurately from the discharge of only a few arrows whether he uses the bow well, hitting the target, or if he shoots outside, being unpractised in the skill. It is possible in the same way too to test the other men of skill, not to mention them individually: athletes, runners, actors of tragedy, pilots, shipwrights, doctors, peasants, and, in a word, all the others who put their hand to some skill; for slight experiment is sufficient to prove the skill of those with knowledge and convict the ignorance of those who adopt the mere name. Therefore, as I said, the recording of even a few of the achievements of each one is sufficient to teach their whole purpose in life. It is our present task to examine, inquire, and discover exactly from what impulse they embraced this way of Life, and by what thoughts they attained the very summit of philosophy; for that it was not through confidence in the strength of the body that they became enamored of what is beyond human nature, transcended the limits imposed on it, and jumped beyond the bounds fixed for contestants in piety, experience is a clear teacher.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Á tous ceux qui me connaissent

The Message of Pentecost

   "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Gospel's heart-beat can be heard in these words. Two worlds draw near each other, the borders are blurred, the beyond becomes the here and now. Every believer, taking part in the Liturgy, has this experience: "Now all the heavenly powers invisibly with us do serve." However, these eruptions of "the wholly other" mean that hell is also in our midst. In spite of the clarity of this idea, the same term is applied to many situations in life. We hear of the hell of an unhappy love, the hell of married life, the hell of the presence of others, the hell of oneself. Hell in a human face forces itself upon our intimacy, becomes a familiar element, well-known but terrifying. The titanic power of rejecting God is the ultimate human freedom. Freedom has been willed as such by God, that is, without limits one scarcely dares to say it, is the hell of his love, the heavenly dimension of hell, the desolate vision of our endless repetition of the action of Adam or of Judas, fleeing into the darkness of solitude.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Self-Emptying

   The commandments place us face to face with Absolute Being. All our efforts to observe these commandments inevitably fail. We discover our utter incapacity. We see such artfulness of mind and spirit in ourselves, such horrors in our heart, that we fell destroyed. Dread of falling away from God, in Whom we believe, is immense. We are in anguish over ourselves. Everything that we store by in the past, we cast away, and find ourselves stripped of earthly ties, of our learning, even of our will. We become poor and “empty”. And the worst ordeal of all is that, despite our utmost straining to be faithful to God, there are periods when we feel forsaken by him. Our spiritual poverty, together with the pain of God’s absence, plunges us into despair. It seems as if some terrible curse hangs over us. We suffer, maybe, on every level of our being – spirit, mind, heart, body. Now we understand the tragedy behind the Bible account of the Fall of man, and belief in Christ’s love impels us to the fullest possible repentance. The more profound our repentance, the more clearly do we see into our own previously hidden depths. Realizing the desperate state that we are in, we begin to detest ourselves as we are.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Know Thyself

Saint Gregory of Nyssa’s Mystical Writings


   Our greatest protection is self-knowledge, and to avoid the delusion that we are seeing ourselves when we are in reality looking at something else. This is what happens to those who do not scrutinize themselves. What they see is strength, beauty, reputation, political power, abundant wealth, pomp, self-importance, bodily stature, a certain grace of form or the like, and they think that this is what they are. Such persons make very poor guardians of themselves: because of their absorption in something else, they overlook what is their own and leave it unguarded. How can a person protect what he does not know?. The most secure protection for our treasure is to know ourselves: each one must know himself as he is, and distinguish himself from all that is not he, that he may not unconsciously be protecting something else instead of himself. Now anyone who has any regard for the life of this world or thinks that worldly honor is worth protecting, does not know how to distinguish himself from what he is not. No passing thing is strictly ours. For how can we have dominion over that which is passing and transitory? Spiritual and imma­terial beings are always the same; whereas matter passes, con­stantly changing in a kind of flux or movement. Hence it must follow that he who separates himself from what is stable will be carried along by that which is in flux. And in aban­doning what is stable for that which is passing, he will lose both, for while he gives up the one, he is unable to keep up with the other.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sayings of Mother Gavrilia (+1992)

Fresco of Mother Gavrilia in the Church of
the Nativity of the Mother of God
Saint John the Baptist Monastery
 Douma - Lebanon
   - Any Place may become a place of Resurrection, if the Humility of Christ becomes the way of our life.
   - Orthodox spirituality is knowledge acquired through the cross rather than through learning.
   - Man wants his freedom. Why? So that he may be a slave to his own passions.
   - True inner progress begins only when a person stops reading anything but the Gospel. It is only then that he unites with God through the Jesus Prayer, and can hear God’s Will.
   - Never ask: “Why has this happened to me?”, and when you see someone suffering from gangrene or cancer or blindness, never say: “Why has this happened to him?”. Instead pray God to grant you the vision of the other shore… Then, like the angels you will be able to see everything in God’s plan… EVERYTHING.
   - If you are to live only for yourself, it would have been better if you had not been born.
   - If you do not like somebody, think that you see Christ in that person. Then you would not even dare to utter a word of criticism.
   - When we need help, God will send someone to us for we are all fellow-travelers.
   - The voice of God is Silence.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Miracle of Our Lady Theotokos in Kassiopi

From the Greek Synaxarion of the Orthodox Church,
Published by Bishop Mattheos Laggis, 5th Edition , Athens, 1994
Translated to English



MAY 8
On this day we celebrate the memory of the awesome miracle of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin MARIAM which was effected through Her at Kassiopi* Holy Icon upon the unjustly blinded Stephanos and wondrously restored**.

Her child today a woman shows forth seeing,
Whom she did not see previously seeing.
On the 8th of May the eyes of a blind man
The Mother of God did restore.

Our Lady Theotokos in Kassiopi
            This awesome miracle of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos took place under the rule of Simonos Lionos Baïlos as Governor of the island of Kerkyra/ Corfu in Greece, in the year 1530. At that time a young man named Stephanos was returning from the capital to his village having accomplished his affairs. On the way he met other travelers with whom he walked along. When they were at a distance from the town, they came across some young men, who were returning from the mill carrying flour. Stephanos’ fellow travelers, being wicked and disposed to evil, said to one another: “What is there to prevent us from taking their flour and dividing it amongst ourselves? No one can see us”.
            Stephanos however, being a just man, immediately on hearing this, tried through many warnings, as much as he could, to obstruct them, saying that the plan which they were devising is a beastly deed, and if they execute it, they will not escape just punishment as thieves and evil-doers. They however, as an asp, closing their ears, did not pay heed to the advice, but instead even tried to incite Stephanos to collaborate with them in the robbery. He, by no means, accepted to consent. They, having beaten the young men, grabbed the flour from them and ran to their homes carrying the flour, rejoicing. The young men, when they returned to their homes empty-handed and in tears, recounted to their relatives what befell them. The relatives, having searched diligently learned who the thieves were and reported to the Governor the events.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Remembrance of One's Last Day

   The first of the Fathers of the desert, “St. Antony the Great”, says: “We must keep ever in our mind what we should be concentrating on if we in this given day were not to live to its end.” St. John Climacus writes, “Remember your last day and you would never sin.” And again he enjoins us to remember always our death. “St. Isaac the Syrian” said: “Always carry in your heart, man, the remem­brance of your departure from this life.” And all the saints personally always did the same and enjoined on others, who also were eager for salvation, to be attentive to this. And not only the saints but also the wise, secular philosophers agree that the remembrance of one's death is very important for moral perfection. But how can we, who are bound to our passions and so weak, learn to keep this: thought ever present?
   St. Isaac taught: “For perfection and integration the remembrance of our death and judgment is a gift and a supernatural grace from God.” Our inconsistency, our distractions, cause a great impediment. We plainly forget to recall death, judgment, hell, and eternal happiness. We often think of these; sometimes we converse with others about death. But deep within our heart we cannot seem to deepen this thought and remain rooted in its reality. But even with our good will and unceasing efforts, only with God's help and our work and in time can we make progress in this matter.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

From Death... To Resurrection

   
     Highlights from the holy services of Great Friday, Great Saturday and Easter Sunday held by the Holy Trinity Family on April 2015.

Prepared by Saint John the Baptist monastery - Douma - Lebanon.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Christ is Risen! Indeed, He is Risen!
Resurrection Fresco - Holy Trinity Church
Saint John the Baptist Monastery - Douma

Have we received the Holy Spirit?*

   Christ is Risen! It is such a joy to be with you today. Holy Week, the celebration of which we have just completed, is surely the most beautiful time in the entire ecclesiastical year. Who could deny the splendor and magnificence of our feasts?. They are God's own feasts, and make our hearts rejoice in Jesus Christ. Although Holy Week has now come and gone, the hymns of the Passion continue to resound within our ears, mingling with the cries of our heart, which we offer up to the Risen Lord.

   Each of us, to a greater or lesser extent, celebrated those feasts and took something from them. What did we take?. To this question, each of us will have a different answer, because even though the Church is a unity, it is a unity of distinct personalities. It is an assembly of persons, each one of them whole and complete, standing before God, and not an anonymous, undifferentiated mass. Thus it is entirely possible for all of us to be gathered together in church, to be standing next to each other and chanting in unison, but for each of us to get something different out of the experience. And what each of us receives is known only to that person, only to the spirit of the man, which is in him, as well as to God the Spirit, Who searches the depths of our own spirit (cf. 1 Cor 2.10-11).

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Christ on Golgotha!.

Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch

   The Gospel on God Among the Criminals…

   Christ on Golgotha! The Saviour on the Cross!. The Righteous One in tor­ment! The Lover of Mankind killed by men! Let him who has a conscience be ashamed! Let him who has a heart weep! Let him who has a mind understand!

   With what can we compare this event - mysterious a infinity, hard as earth and terrible as hell? Of millions of happenings every day throughout the universe, that our eyes can see and our ears hear, with what event can we compare this unmentionable act of wickedness on Golgotha? With a lamb among ravening wolves? Or an innocent child in the jaws of a snake-like king? Or a mother surrounded by insane sons and daughters? Or with a skil­ful man's fall into a machine that he had himself assembled, to be cut to pieces by the machine's wheels? With Abel, whom his brother killed? But then the greater sinner killed the lesser, while here wicked men fall on the sinless. With Joseph, whose brothers sold him in Egypt? But that was a sin against their brother, not against a benefactor, while here the sin is against the Benefactor. With righteous Job, whose flesh Satan turned to corruption and a stench, a meal for worms? But then Satan rose up against God's crea­ture, while here the creature rises up against the Creator. With wondrous David, against whom his son Absalom raised a rebellion? But that was a small punishment for David's great sin, while here the innocent One, the Most Righteous, suffers so terribly!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Sunday of St Mary of Egypt

   It is not possible to establish with any certainty what part history and what part legend play in the traditions that relate to “St Mary of Egypt”. One may as well simply admit the fact that the Church wished to make her, as we sing during matins: “a pattern of repentance”. She is a symbol of conversion, of contrition, and of austerity. On this last Sunday of Lent, she expresses the last and most urgent call that the Church addresses to us before the sacred days of the Passion and the Resurrection.

   The epistle read at the liturgy (Heb. 9. 11-14) compares the ministry of Christ to that of the High Priest of the Jews. Once, each year, he entered into the Tabernacle, but Christ “entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us”. The High Priest purified and sanctified the faithful by sprinkling them with the blood and ashes of sacrificed animals. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Selected quotes from the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Saint John Climacus


Fresco in the Holy Trinity Church at
Saint John the Baptist Monastery
- It is better to grieve our parents than the Lord. For He has created and saved us, but they have often ruined their loved ones and delivered them up to their doom.
- Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life.
- A penitent is a buyer of humility.
- Before our fall, the demons say that God is a friend of man; but after the fall, that He is inexorable.
- Some inquire and wonder: “why, when remembrance of death is so beneficial for us, has God hidden from us the knowledge of the hour of death?” – Not knowing that in this way God wonderfully accomplishes our salvation.
- Do not wish to assure everyone in word of your love for them, but rather ask God to show them your love without words.
- The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breadth of unclean winds.
- As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats, so at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

From the Cross to the depth of God

   This Sunday, at the end of the Divine Service, we shall have a procession with the Holy Cross placed in the midst of flowers; each believer will get one of these flowers when embracing the Cross. The Cross is surrounded with three candles as if the Holy Trinity is bowing for every believer cleaving to the Cross.

   We, however, reach for meanings and do not stop at the Icon we kiss; we search for deeper understandings, for what lies behind this sacred kiss. And what lies deeper is what the Lord has said in the Bible this Sunday: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”, as if He was saying that this is a condition if we want to consider ourselves His disciples, accepting life as it is given, as it comes and be crucified on it. The Cross is cast in our lives or, in other word, our lives are cast on the Cross. Each and every one of us is hindered by this or that person or by his own sin, thus his whole being is scattered. Jesus did not invent the Cross, but He found it in Him, in His Flesh and Blood, in the flesh of a weary humanity. Jesus did not love the Cross and does not request from us to search for suffering, suffering is loathsome, and the Lord wished that this cup pass from Him. Our faith does not call us to suffer, however suffering is in us made by the sin rooted in us.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

On Spiritual fatherhood

   What is mainly the importance of “fatherhood”: A “father”, psychologically, is a foundation, a center point, an authority. Our existence is founded on the basis of fatherhood. The whole universe is directed towards a father… towards the Father… the God Father… (The Creed – the first words in Saint Paul’s Epistles – Our Father who art in Heaven).

   The same way we are born physically we are to be born spiritually: Saint Paul says: “for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you” (1 Cor 4: 15)… There is a “life” that is given… An operation, a sort of a creation…  A transition from a life that is “natural”, regular, psychological, superficial, to a life that is “spiritual”, the world of the Holy Spirit, a world that is beyond nature, a deep “inner” life, that is vertical… and this life has been transmitted by succession ever since Christ and His apostles, through this tradition… a living tradition…  A continuity in newness…

Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Journey Of Ascent.

   O DIVINE LORD of all that exists, Thou hast illumined the Apostle and Evangelist Luke with Thy Holy Spirit, thereby enabling him to represent Thy most Holy Mother, the One who held Thee in her arms and said: The Grace of Him Who has been born of me is spread through the world!

   Enlighten and direct my soul, my heart and my spirit. Guide the hands of Thine unworthy servant so that I may worthily and perfectly portray Thine Icon, that of   Thy Mother, and all the Saints, for the glory, joy and adornment of Thy Holy Church.

   Forgive my sins and the sins of those who will venerate these icons and who, kneeling devoutly before them, give homage to those they represent.

   Protect them from all evil and instruct them with good counsel. This I ask through the intercession of Thy most Holy Mother, the Apostle Luke, and all the Saints. Amen.

   The iconographer prayer before starting an icon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

On Fasting

   Father, some say that the great Apostle Paul conveyed different teaching concerning fasting from that of our Savior Christ. Can you explain this to me?.

   ELDER CLEOPA: Fasting, according to the testimony of Saint Basil the Great, is the oldest commandment given by God to man. This great father of the Church of Christ says:

   "O Man, be pious and meditate with fear on the antiquity of the fast, for as old as is the world so old is as the commandment of fasting. Indeed this commandment was given in paradise when God said to Adam: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it. For in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.'"

Saturday, February 14, 2015

In What Way Can One Guard the Senses from Passions?.

    Our senses are those very doors and windows through which either life or death may enter.
   Every idea of evil and every form of passion enters the heart through the mediation and service of the senses. And if the senses are not guarded, then the evil passions are also not guarded. How can they be guarded and closed to such passions? Listen. The windows of the Temple of Solomon were covered with fine nets to prevent the entry of impure insects (cf. Ez 41 :6). This may serve as a reminder that he who does not want any impure pas­sions of the senses to enter into his soul must drape his senses with spiritual nets. What are these nets? It is the memory of death, for one; our account before Christ on the day of judgment; the memory of eternal suffering. Through these, man can put away the evil passions and sins, when they come before his eyes and his other senses. St. Neilos has confirmed that this is so: "Those who desire to keep their mind as a clean and pure temple, where the doors and windows are covered with fine nets to prevent the entry of any impure insects, must similarly cover their senses by meditating on the sobering realities of the future judgment which prevent the entry of any impure images to creep in".

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pour your heart to God

   Question: In our modern culture that is so materialistic, scientific and focused on biology and the natural sciences, how can we even become aware that the heart is something more than just a muscle?. How can we become aware of ourselves as being something more than just a brain or a circulatory system?!.

   Answer: We must learn the language of God. Because we all have sinned, we all have a common language, the language of pain. When we come to God, we will inevitably have to suffer in order to be purified. If we speak to God with that pain, if we pour out our heart to God with that pain, then God will listen to us, and the heart will be activated.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Anthologie de dialogues de Saint Porphyrios

Anthologie de dialogues du Saint Géron Porphyrios avec ses enfants spirituels. II s’agit d'une anthologie de dialogues sous forme d'épigrammes de Géron Porphyrios avec ses enfants spirituels de Chypre et de Grèce, tels qu'eux-mêmes les ont transcrits :

Mural of Saint Porphyrios at
Saint John the Baptist Church
 - Géron, vous me parlez toujours de l'égoïsme.
- Oui, parce qu'il ne doit pas rester trace d’égoïsme parmi nous, aucune trace, tu entends?
* * * * *
- Acquiers l'humilité, sois autant que possible humble.
- C'est difficile dans le monde où nous vivons, Géron, comment l'acquérir?
- En aimant plus le Christ.
* * * * *
- Géron, je voudrais faire en sorte que mes parents croient en Dieu autant que je crois moi, parce qu'ils sont très tièdes dans leur foi. Mais il est trop tard puisqu'ils sont âgés et se trouvent à la fin de leur vie.
- Ce n'est pas trop tard. C'est précisèrent a cet âge qu'est le moment opportun.
* * * * *