Fasting is a commandment of God

“Fasting is a commandment of God. Because of this, we should also fast, my children.

I have not neglected fasting in my 70 years. My mother taught me fasting from childhood. I am not being a hypocrite when I fast, but I am doing that which my parents taught me and that which I keep until today.

Fasting has never brought sickness upon me.

Physicians and Bishops say that careful fasting is very beneficial to man. Once, a doctor told me: “Father, don’t eat for five days, nor even drink a drop of water, because we will do a test to see what is going on with your body.” Therefore I fasted for five days. It had done great things to me.

How much more are we benefited when we fast for our soul! Because within our body inhabits an eternal soul. Therefore, let us take care for our soul, which is truly immortal. Continue reading

A joy that they have never known before

Spiritual things only become clear beyond a doubt when the spirit sees them and perceives them. In order to see and feel the manifestations of the spiritual world, long and exhausting spiritual practice is needed, after which, by God’s grace, spiritual vision may be opened in a person; this vision allows him to see what seems unbelievable and impossible to ordinary mortals.

Nevertheless, a person must first believe those who have seen the unbelievable, and strengthen their faith from day to day, striving to see what is inaccessible to the common gaze. Not in vain does the Lord say, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29). The Lord God rejoices in their faith just as a father on earth rejoices that His children believe his every word.

All the apostles were present at the Ascension of the Lord, gathered on the hill. This was their last  gathering. However, this was not the last appearance of Christ. Continue reading

If we do not repent we will not be saved

Many Christians have the reverent desire to be baptized in the Jordan River. However, no matter how many times we enter the Jordan River, and no matter how many bottles of holy water we drink, if we do not repent we will not be saved.

Let us kneel every day and night, and let us beseech God to grant us a contrite spirit and tears.

Compel yourselves, my children, in the spiritual struggle. Do not forget the vast experience of the devil and our own weakness. Just as a leaf in autumn falls at the slightest wind, likewise we fall at the slightest temptation or trial when the grace of God does not assist us. Continue reading

Palm Sunday

Who did not meet the Lord when He, as a king, triumphantly entered into Jerusalem; and who did not cry out then, Hosanna to the Son of David! (Matt. 21:15)? But only four days passed, and the same crowd with the same tongues cried, Crucify Him, crucify Him! (John 19:6). An amazing change!

But why should we be surprised? Do we not do the very same thing, when upon receiving the Holy Mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we barely leave the Church before forgetting everything—both our reverence and God’s mercy toward us. We give ourselves over as before to self-pleasing deeds—at first small and then also large.

Perhaps even before four days have passed, although we do not cry, “Crucify Him!” we will crucify the Lord within ourselves. The Lord sees all of this and suffers. Glory to Thy longsuffering, O Lord!

St. Theophan the Recluse

On The Struggle of Great Lent

At this time we have entered the great spiritual arena of the blessed Great Lent. Holy and Great Lent is a time of compunction, for repentance, for tears, for a change in ourselves, for a new stage in the spiritual life. Like an affectionate mother caring for her children, us Christians, the Church has designated this time of Lent as dedicated to the struggle, in order to help its children fight harder, to purify themselves, draw closer to God and to be counted worthy of celebrating the great day of the radiant Resurrection.

Christians, especially monks, have always paid particular attention to this spiritual arena and have thought it especially sacred, because it’s a period which envisages both spiritual and bodily struggles. There’s the struggle of fasting, the struggle of vigils, the struggle of purification and the struggle to fulfill one’s spiritual duties which are many more other times of the year. There’s a spiritual “defragmentation” and people pay greater attention to the voice of their conscience in order to correct what they’ve maybe neglected and to improve spiritually. Continue reading

On Obedience

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word.

Luke 1:38

Those are earthly words, but like heavenly things, they are purer than tried silver, better than gold, of greater value than precious stones. This is the treasure which during five thousand years the heavens sought upon earth, and which one from before the heavenly throne was sent to reveal.

In truth, Archangel Gabriel not only brought unto the Virgin Mary the word of divine annunciation, but also awaited from her the word of compliance…He at length solves the question: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon Thee”, and then he received the desired answer, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word.” And now only is the long-sought treasure found…The heavenly embassy has attained its end. “And the Angel departed from her.”

What does this mean? What means it that the incarnation of the Son of God is preceded by Annunciation from heaven, Continue reading

Above all we should maintain a humble mindset

“Prayer, hymnology, attending church, making prostrations, primarily going to Holy Confession and receiving Holy Communion, helping others in any way possible (especially through acts of love that stem from our heart and not from pride and egotism), are all good steps toward beautifying our soul.

But above all, we should maintain a humble mindset. We must believe that everything we accomplish is due to God’s help.”

“Love demands discretion, and discretion, in turn, is an art. If you are unfamiliar with the art of love, then you do not know how to love.

Love overlooks the flaws of our brother. It forgives mistakes. It tolerates bad habits. It gives way to obstinacy. It avoids criticism.” Continue reading

Defender against heresy and false teaching

Saint Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher, King of Serbia Stephen Nemanya was the Great Zhupan of Serbia, and lived during the twelfth century.
The saint toiled much for his fatherland: he united a large portion of the Serbian lands, and strove for the political independence of his country from the Byzantine Empire.
In his zeal for the Orthodox Church, he defended his nation against heresy and false teaching.

At the age of eighty, Stephen went to Mt. Athos, where his son Saint Sava (January 12), was glorified by the holiness of his life.

Together they restored the desolate Hilandar monastery, to which monks from various lands began to gather.

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To Become Bearers of God

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Dear brothers and sisters, today we celebrate the glorious and joyous feast of the Meeting of the Lord. This feast is so named because the righteous elder Symeon, living in Jerusalem, met in the Jerusalem Temple the forty-day-old Youth the Lord Jesus Christ with His Most Pure Mother. This sacred event is described by the Evangelist Luke: Continue reading