Saturday, December 28, 2019

Anecdotes About St. Joseph the Hesychast
Hieromonk Ephraim, St. Nilus Skete, Alaska.

 Saint Joseph the Hesychast.
Elder Sophrony of Essex heard about Elder Joseph and found him on his own. Elder Sophrony visited him frequently because he had great reverence for him. He later said that Elder Joseph was one of the greatest ascetics of the Holy Mountain he had ever met. In a letter of his, Elder Sophrony wrote the following about their meeting: “I wanted to hear the words of this bearer of great grace. He spoke to me primarily about the hesychastic life of a hermit and that he himself had seen the Uncreated Light several times. My discussion with Geronda left a deep impression on me.... I had the impression that I had in front of me a spiritual general.” Indeed, he was “the teacher”—which is what pious monks of the wilderness of the Holy Mountain would call him out of reverence and respect.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Lily announcing Christ's birth.
Father Arseni Boca.

The soul that reaches the state of purity receives the Lily announcing Christ's birth. At this time the unfolding of gifts received through Holy Chrism occurs. Now the soul must pass against its will through tribulations not dependent on it though ordained by God, completing what was missing from the soul's understanding of things in its life on earth. Throughout this time, the power of Holy Spirit continues working within the ascetic. Let us not forget: the Holy Spirit acted only after the ascetic disengaged all of his soul's powers from working against nature and set them to work for their originally intended purpose: in accordance with nature. Once this conversion and inner harmony of powers is obtained in us, then comes the work of the things above human nature, assisting the growth and development of the Holy Spirit is gifts ordained by God for each of us.
A new child has been born in the flesh, bringing it into a state of purity. Then the child grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon Him."He is the morning star which arises in the hearts of the believers," as Peter says. He is God -as- Light - our light - the one covered by the darkness of ignorance from the time of passions, which will rise like the dawn and will speed your healing.' And thy old waste desert places shall be built up, and thy foundations shall last through all generations:" Jesus Christ. The Light of the world and your light will glow more brightly. The child Jesus became perfect man in the army of perfected men and comes, bowing his head under the hand of dust of His creation, showing His humility in receiving Baptism.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Farewell Word.
Saint Sophrony(Sakharov)

Fr. Sophrony:
            Blessed be the Name of the Lord now and unto the ages!
         The Lord left as His commandment: "Love me and in this love keep my commandments"[1]. By keeping the commandments we become accustomed to live effortlessly in the frequent memory of Christ, His life, His example and His words. So then, I ask you please, my beloved brothers and sisters, to accept simply and in peace these words, not as mine, but as an answer to the call which our Lord is addressing us.
         If you hear now some things, similar to those that the Lord said at the Last Supper prior to His departure, I ask you please to not be saddened by these, because He Himself said: "Do not premeditate what you will speak... but whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak but the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father".[2] As He chose the Most Holy Virgin Mary and rendered Her a path for His Incarnation, in that same way the Lord unites Himself with all of us and according to our type of mind. Therefore, it follows that I have the right to speak, following the example of Christ, because He said: "I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you".[3]

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Persecution and monasticism
preparation for sanctity.

Saint Sophrony(Sakharov)

Archimandrite Thomas, Saint Sophrony, Mother Mariam,
contemplating the icon of the Mother of God.
Fr. Sophrony:
          As always, I come to our synaxes without preparation. My preparation rests on the prayer which you have just chanted: that the Spirit may come and vivify our heart and mind. And once again I rejoice that I am living this moment of our meeting together...
          We are living in an exceptionally important time. Two or three years ago a team of theologians from Serbia visited us. These young Serbian theologians asked me what I thought about the future. Here in our country (England), no one knew at that time the word "perestroika", which all the world today knows. I answered them that I am not a prophet, but my prayer tells me that humanity is living in a tragic tension, which surpasses the capacities of whichever State leader. Thus, if destruction through a nuclear war does not come in the near future, there will occur an inevitable revival of Christianity. And behold, a little while later, we began to hear talk on "perestroika" (= reconstruction- reformation), so that the Orthodox Church in Russia is now undergoing a period of revival.
          As Christ said that through the Providence of our Creator and Father even the hairs of our head are numbered[1], it is obvious that through the same Providence also Russia was preserved throughout this entire period of seventy years. The Word of God entered total kenosis, when He said to the Father, on the Cross : "Why have You forsaken me?"[2]The Apostle Paul tells us that God did not answer His Son who was dying saying, "Father, into Your hands I commit  my spirit"[3]. And precisely from that moment of His death, Christ began to be known not as a Prophet, no matter how great He was, but as God Himself.
          What the Church of Russia lived throughout the period of the seventy years, was allowed by Divine Providence, even though from a human point of view these years were an exceptionally tragic period. The slaughter of Christians was allowed by the Providence of God, at a time when the voices and innumerable prayers of the faithful remained unanswered from the part of the Heavenly Father. Knowing very many texts of prisoners, exiles etc., we can see there the repetition of all that occurred during the first centuries of Christianity. Thus, was granted in our times an exceptionally grand privilege: the privilege not only to believe in God, but also to suffer with Him[4]. In other words, these events, which seem to us terrible and which urged in us tearful prayer for them and for the whole of mankind, permitted a harvest of thousands and thousands of great saints.