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


   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

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.