Tuesday, January 17, 2017

SAINT ANTHONY THE GREAT +January 17th

 
By Archimandrite Elpidios Vagianakis (in greek)

SAINT ANTHONY THE GREAT
FOUNDER OF CHRISTIAN MONASTICISM
(Commemorated on January 17th)


HIS CHILDHOOD YEARS

Saint Anthony was born in 251 A.D.  in Koma, a small village in south Memphis in Egypt near the banks of the Nile River, during the era of the Roman Emperor Decius, a notorious persecutor of Christians.
His parents were rather wealthy but also devout Christians. By his nature little Anthony was an extremely sweet, polite, and humble child. Everyone loved him as their own child for the goodness and respect which he showed to all people.
He loved everyone, even the most scorned person. Whenever Anthony saw a poor, orphaned or sick child, he was inclined to assist them. 
Even though he was so young, his words were full of wisdom and prudence.
But what most impressed everyone and made them refer to him as a child of God was his great devotion and tender love towards Jesus Christ. Whenever he spoke of Him, his heart would burn like lava in a volcano.
His greatest joy was attending divine services with his beloved parents in their small village church. There, he would listen carefully to the reading of the Gospels, which he had an eager desire to follow and apply precisely in his life.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

22. The miracle of Christmas

22. The miracle of Christmas

 
The bells were ringing for the most joyful celebration of Christians, Christmas, and the hearts of all the people poured out numerous wishes like a fragrant aroma for a Merry Christmas and many happy years of peace and joy!
The same wishes were repeated once more, after the Christmas Mass, to the spiritual father of a group of young children, who were visiting the monastery of the Archangels, up the mountain, to celebrate the birth of the God-man Jesus Christ.
 -May God give you, my beloved children, many happy and blessed years. I wish you may also embrace the sweet Holy Infant of Bethlehem, as those blessed shepherds embraced Him, when they visited Him one cold night in the cave where He was born.
-We would very much like, our reverend father, for you to talk to us about that night and the miracle of the birth of our Christ!

21. The divine Infant of Bethlehem

21. The divine Infant of Bethlehem

No-one ever doubted that the presence of a small baby is one of the strongest joys of earth, which brings great happiness. At the sight of the innocent infant and his angelic smile, even hard-hearted people soften and their hearts become peaceful.
A baby does not distinguish between good and bad people. He smiles at all of them innocently and honestly. He spreads out his little hands to everybody in order to enjoy their love and hugs.
No-one is ever afraid of an innocent infant. Infants never harm anyone. Inadvertently, the only feeling they may provoke is the sense of the wide gap between their innocence and the cunning that older people have. That's why when you look at them, you remember the lost greatness of innocence which you also once had. Really, how many times have we wished we were innocent like them!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Α Guide to Repentance

Α Guide to Repentance


Α Guide to Repentance
A few words of introduction
Every man, my brother, is made up of:
-the mortal and material body and
-the immaterial, immortal and spiritual soul.
God created man in this way.
However, as the body needs to be cared for, to be cleansed, to be clothed, to be fed, in the same way the immortal soul has its own needs:
- ITS CLEANSING, that is confession, by which it will be cleansed of the various impurities of its sins.
- ITS CLOTHING, not to be naked and freezing, that is, all those works of love which our Christ commands us to do through His Gospel, and
- ITS FOOD, that is, Holy Communion, the all holy Body and Blood of the crucified sweetest Son of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
If, however, we look after our material body with such great care, shouldn't we pay more attention to our immortal soul which is, as our beloved teacher Jesus says, more valuable than our body?
“Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:37-38)
In this little booklet, written for you with a lot of love, you will read some simple reflections on the great Sacrament of Repentance and of Confession, since that's why our Christ came to earth, to bring repentance to mankind, because without it no-one can truly love Christ and be saved.

20. The night of Christmas

20. The night of Christmas

It was slowly getting dark and the sun was disappearing behind the mountains of Bethlehem. The cold and frost made the inhabitants of this small village, as well as all those who came from distant places to be registered at the place of their birth, go inside their homes early. Soon the streets were deserted and no one was walking about outside.
To tell the truth not everyone, because just outside the village a pious man, leading a donkey with a young girl on its back, who looked like she was pregnant, was anxious to arrive at a house in time before it got too late.
Every now and then, he was trying to give her courage, because he saw that the time to give birth had come and the young girl was extremely tired from the trip which had taken several days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

19. The little sheep of God (Saint Agnes)

19. The little sheep of God

(Saint Agnes)

In the first three centuries A.D. the Christian Church lived one of the most bloody and most heroic periods in its history. Masses of Christians wrote with their blood moving pages of love about the Crucified Jesus and His Gospel.
Terrible and horrible tortures were invented, to eradicate from the hearts of the faithful Christians the love they had for our Lord Jesus Christ.
The boldness, however, and the courage all the Christians showed when facing the tortures were remarkable! With unimaginable patience and bravery, children and adults, men and women, young and old, even young children suffered all these tortures with enthusiasm, for the sake of their Christian faith.
One such child, the young noble Agnes, was in her early teens, when she was asked to confess with courage the love she had for our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Agnes was born in the year 290 A.D. in Rome. The Emperor was then the great persecutor of Christians, Diocletian. Her parents had aristocratic origins and were very wealthy. From the time she was a toddler Agnes learnt about Christ and like a thirsty fawn which runs to the spring of gurgling water to drink, she was studying the holy Gospel and the great teaching of love, as interpreted through the Holy Book.

18. A heavenly sunbeam (The Great Martyr Saint Christina)

18. A heavenly sunbeam 

(The Great Martyr Saint Christina)

Like a heavenly sunbeam the only daughter of General Ourvanos was born and raised in the city of Tyre in Syria, around 200 AD. Everyone from far and wide spoke about her wonderful beauty, but also about this young noble girl’s good manners.
Her father, being a supreme general was often away in the East with the troops of King Severus and fearing that someone would dare to hurt her during his absence, built a tall tower. He enclosed his little girl in this together with many servants to look after her.
The greatest fear of her pagan father was that someone would introduce Christianity to his daughter. So that's why he filled this tower with dozens of gold and silver statues of pagan gods. In this tower, there was everything, so that his daughter would not need to come out at all, that's why he strictly ordered her not to leave the tower.

17. The Pearl of Sicily (The life of St. Agatha)

17. The Pearl of Sicily 

(The life of St. Agatha)

The precious pearl of heaven, Saint Agatha, was born and raised in Sicily, Italy in the 3rd century AD, when the Emperor of Rome was Decius.
She was only fifteen years old when the persecution of the Christians began. But the divine love that burned her breasts for her beloved Jesus was so great that she was not afraid at all. Instead she ran to support the Christians of her country and help them to remain faithful to the true faith of Christ.
She said that we live temporarily on this earth and that our true home is in heaven, in God's embrace. What's the point, then, of living here for a few years of false joys and pleasures and then losing the eternal happiness of Heaven?
She helped them with her example, to love her heavenly Bridegroom of Jesus even more and for His grace not to fear anything, not even the terrible tortures of the idolaters.

16. Three great evils have started

16. Three great evils have started

 
-I heard you saying father that, because of our sins, three great evils have started, which all of humanity will soon have to face. Could you please tell me more about this?
-All the world, my child, is a vast earthly kingdom, which is ruled by several leaders. We, the people, elect these leaders according to our beliefs and desires. When we respect God and strive to live according to His Will, we elect the right and pious leaders. God then blesses the people and the country, so that the people live happy and cheerful lives, but also for the country to enjoy the great gift of peace. Nature, seeing the love of man towards its Creator, becomes his friend and ally and generously gives him its fruits and its gifts.
-Father, can nature perceive the spiritual changes in the human soul?

15. Talk to God like a little child

15. Talk to God like a little child

-Many times, Father, I've heard you talk about the value and the power of prayer. I was impressed when you said that, of all the virtues it is the only one that, when done correctly, can very easily bring Divine Grace to our soul. You also said that Satan fears it very much because it burns him and destroys his evil powers! Therefore, I would like to ask you, if possible, to tell me more about it and help me learn how to correctly pray to our Lord.
-The fathers of our Holy Church, my child, named prayer the queen of virtues! And do you know why? Because by itself it has the power to unite a soul with its Creator! All other virtues simply help a soul to ascend to the throne of God. Prayer, however, when made with faith and humility, has the power to put you in the arms of God and help you experience, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the infinite motherly love with which your heavenly Father adores you! Through prayer you can also feel His infinite compassion for you and how much He wants to hold you like a child in His loving fatherly heart! Through prayer, every time you will ask forgiveness for your mistakes, He will bend down with much adoration and love,  to tell you that He forgives you and how He wants you to become His small earthly angel! Through prayer you become one with your beloved God the Father, since you give Him the pleasure of holding you tightly in His arms and listening to the voice of His beloved child. Prayer, my child, is the most sacred moment for each person, since only with this can a man be worthy to speak with his almighty Father and the Creator of the whole universe. Prayer is the quickest path that leads you directly to God's kingdom, which is why all the Saints loved prayer more than any other virtue.

14. The three holy noble children (The life of St. Sophia)

14. The three holy noble children 

(The life of St. Sophia)

When the Emperor of Rome was Hadrian (117 A.D.- 138 A.D.) there lived in a town in Italy, a young and wealthy noble Christian woman whose name was Sophia.
She had lost her husband very early and lived alone with her three beautiful daughters, Faith, who was 12 years old, Hope, who was 10 years old and Love, who was just 9 years old. All three girls had a radiant beauty, not only physical beauty, but essentially from the many mental and spiritual gifts they had.
Sophia, as a mother, was a very good role model. She was kind, modest, humble, with a burning love for Christ in her heart, but also she was incredibly tender-hearted towards all poor and suffering people.

13. On the feast day of our Holy Virgin Mary

13. On the feast day of our Holy Virgin Mary


Maria together with her fiancé John went up the mountain, to the chapel of the Archangels, to attend the divine Liturgy and to receive the Body and Blood of their well-beloved King Jesus, on that great day of the feast of our Holy Virgin Mary.
Both of them love God very much and want to have a blessed family, which will worship the Creator and will live according to His Will.
After the divine Liturgy they did not leave immediately, but sat under a big shady tree beside the stone spring of cool water to enjoy the beauty of the mountain and thank God for the many gifts He gave them.
Their joy grew when they saw the elder priest approach them and sit near them like a sweet father close to his children.

12. God’s dreams for us

12. God’s dreams for us

    There is no man who doesn't dream of his future. Everyone has dreams young, old, men, women and even young children.
All dreams are mainly about the future and people's happiness. The priority in all these dreams is their future profession and the choice of a good spouse, with whom they will share the joys and sorrows of life.
In order for their dreams in the professional sector to succeed they are already working hard from an early age, studying endlessly for so many years, at elementary school and then high school and university. But in the emotional part of their life, even from small children they are watching, searching and looking anxiously until the appropriate spouse is found, with whom they will share the joys and sorrows of this life.

11. Myron vessels of love

11. Myron vessels of love

 
Dimitris together with his friends, all students in the medical school of the university, are going up the mountain, to see and talk with the wise elder, who lives there ascetically in the monastery of the Archangels.
They heard so much from Dimitris about his holiness and wisdom, that they wanted, out of curiosity mostly, to get a closer look and see if everything they heard from their friend is true.
They are excited by the beauty of the mountain. The scenery is impressive, with the gurgling water of the brook flowing tirelessly in the green forest and the birds incessantly chirping the song of joy.
But Dimitris’ friends’ enthusiasm will grow when they see the elder ascetic welcoming them with that sweet warmth of his paternal love. Although they were seeing him for the first time, it did not take long for them to feel very comfortable and very at ease with him.

10. Confession of the heart

10. Confession of the heart


It's almost a week since the young medical student Dimitris, visited the wise ascetic elder at the chapel of the Archangels, up on the mountain.
Their discussion on various spiritual topics and especially the sacrament of confession, had captivated him. Throughout the week, he tried to study and discover, as much as it was possible, the errors and passions of his soul and to write them down. He was determined to confess them to the wise elder priest and ask him to guide him on the spiritual path he had already begun.
Now, he is happily going up the path through the forest, which would soon bring him closer to his divinely inspired guide.
The joy of the ascetic elder was obvious, when he saw the young student sitting next to him and asking him to hear his confession.

9. The secret for a proper confession

9. The secret for a proper confession


Under the deep shade of a plane tree and beside the stream of running gurgling water, near the beautiful chapel of the Archangels, high in the mountain, the ascetic elder is sitting with Dimitris, the young student of medicine, and talking to him.
Dimitris is a very modest, sensitive and polite young man. He loves all people, but most of all those who are suffering from various diseases. Besides, this was the reason he decided to study medicine, because he wanted to be among the suffering and serve them with his medical knowledge.

8. The miracle of forgiveness

8. The miracle of forgiveness

It was still very early in the morning, when the rising sun emerged timidly, to challenge the darkness of the night.
Alone, a young man went up the narrow path through the woods, to go to the chapel of the Archangels, where a venerable old priest lived ascetically together with four other brothers. He was the abbot at this small monastery, a spiritual father renowned for the love and compassion which he showed to those who went for confession.
Soon, the young man was kneeling at the feet of this holy spiritual father and opened his heart to confess all his sins.

7. Does God love me too?

7. Does God love me too?


One day a mother was talking to her oldest son about the various problems that are troubling all the teenagers nowadays.
Sometime later, the discussion turned to God and the mother asked her son what his friends believe about Him.
-Some children, mum, believe simply that there is a superior power who governs the world. Others say that there is nothing, neither God nor soul. They believe that everything is material and ends with death, that is why they declare themselves as atheists. Others, on the other hand, believe that there is a God but He isn't concerned with them. Of course, there are those who believe in His existence and go to church.

6. The secret for a happy marriage

6. The secret for a happy marriage



-What's wrong, my child, why are your eyes red from crying? the little girl's mother asked her anxiously, when she came home from a school friend's house.
-There was a big fuss today at my friend's house. Her parents were quarrelling and said many bad words to each other. In the end they decided to split up and her dad left the house.
-What did your friend do then?
-She was crying inconsolably and begged them not to split up. But they took no notice of her and continued to curse each other. Why aren't all couples happy, mum, like you and dad? What is it that makes them unable to live together with love?

5. A heavenly melody

5. A heavenly melody


Two days before Pentecost, a young man with his wife went to their spiritual father to confess their sins. They wanted to cleanse their souls from every sin and get ready spiritually for the great day of the Holy Spirit.
The pious confessor heard their sins, read them the prayer of forgiveness and blessed them. Then he took them to sit under a big oak tree with its thick shade. Near them a bubbling stream ran from the monastery's well, where its murmuring together with the rustling of the trees made their own sweet melody.
There he found the opportunity, as an affectionate spiritual father that he was, to teach them a wonderful heavenly melody. To reveal to them the nicest treasures of the Holy Spirit, with which they could become spiritually rich and walk their life on the greatest paths of joy and happiness.

4. Our real father

4. Our real father

A family was in the habit of praying every day in front of the holy iconostasis. One day, after the evening prayer, the small child asked his father:
-Dad, why when we're praying do we say that God is our Father? Is it maybe because He created us?
-My child, God created the whole world as well as us, humans. But while for the whole world He is just God the Creator, for us humans He is something more. He is the real Father and Mother of our souls.

3. What Satan says to God about us!

3. What Satan says to God about us!

We all say that we love and respect God and that we are good Christians. We don't feel that we are isolated from Him, because we don't harm anyone and definitely go to church three times a year. We believe that we are close to God. But Satan tells God different things about us.
With much audacity, as if he is the one who successfully dominates our lives, because we do whatever he puts in our minds, he turns to God and says:

2. The most merciful Father

2. The most merciful Father

The greatest joy for a child is to have good parents. The nicest thing a child can have in this life is its mother's tender love and the loving protective presence of its father. Only an orphaned child can understand the suffering from the lack of such parents.
But the same suffering is felt by those people, who think that they are orphaned from the presence of a heavenly Father God. How many people really feel sadness and sorrow because, due to their sins, they think that God does not love them, but is ready to punish them and send them to hell for the mistakes and the sins they have made or are still making.

1. The miracle of repentance

1. The miracle of repentance

Who doesn't want to be happy? No one! We all want joy and peace, that's why we do everything to achieve it. But despite our efforts, it is very difficult to succeed. That's why we are wondering what's really to blame.
The secret is not found in acquiring various material things or in bodily pleasures, but in the most precious thing that a man has, which is his immortal soul.

As we all know, man is not made up only from his material and perishable body but also from the intangible, indestructible and immortal soul. That's how God created us, with a body and a soul.
At birth, the mother gives the baby its body through her blood. However, the soul of man is given to him by God himself, and that's why the true mother and father of the soul is only God.
The soul is only happy when it is in the embrace of its Creator and secretly enjoys, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the divine motherly love of God its Father.
Every time that a man, who has been led astray by deceitful Satan, wounds his soul with mistakes and sins, it suffers, grieves and hurts, because it sees the grace of God being removed from it together with the affectionate presence of God's motherly love.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

16. Angela's birthday

16. Angela's birthday


Angela's celebration
Today there is much joy and happiness at Vangelis' and
Sophia's house. Their daughter Angela is celebrating two things, her name-day and her birthday. They named her Angela in honour of the holy angels, because she was born on the day that our Holy Church celebrates the memory of the holy angels and archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The festive atmosphere is not only in Angela’s home but throughout the village, because the holy church of the village, which is dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, is celebrating too.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

15. A blessed married couple

15. A blessed married couple




Morning Prayer

Before the sun had risen Sophia with her husband, Vangelis were kneeling and praying to their divine God. With devoutness and childish trust in their heavenly Father, they were begging Him to bless their house and flood their humble souls with the grace of the Holy Spirit. They both loved their God so much that every time they mentioned His holy name their eyes filled with tears of love, joy and gratitude.
This blessed couple believed that the more they put their Creator in their lives, the more love they would have for each other but also for all their fellow men.
When they married they had decided together to start each day with prayer, so that God would bless their every activity. Ever since their first child was born, they began praying even earlier in the morning. Before the break of dawn both of them were in front of the holy iconostasis to thank God for all the gifts that He gave them and especially for their children.

14. Christ’s Bouquet

14. Christ’s Bouquet




The Flowers of Virtue

From far away Angela's joyful voice could be heard, as she came home from school. Sophia saw her little daughter from the kitchen window and a wave of joy flooded her heart. She was always touched by her kind-hearted character and her great love for God. She was an adorable child who everyone wanted to spend time with because of the joy she was spreading around her.
As soon as she entered the house she ran quickly to her mother, embraced her and gave her a sweet kiss. Then she looked in the other rooms to find her little brother Joseph, to embrace him and kiss him. They were devoted siblings and they tried not to embitter each other. If a disagreement tried to spoil the harmony of their fraternal love and create complaints and turmoil, easily, they humbly apologized to each other and serenity was coming immediately.

Friday, October 23, 2015

4. The Mind, the Gateway of the Heart

The Mind, the Gateway of the Heart


4rd Epistle

My beloved child,
from the moment we make the decision to live with the simplicity of a child and to allow everything with absolute trust in the hands of God our Father, a crowd of angels undertakes to protect us. Joy and serenity rules over our heart and our soul enjoys God's peace.
Satan, of course, is very annoyed by this and tries with a thousand and one ways to upset this joy that a Christian soul has. The ways he uses are mainly acts of sin upon man's five senses. With these he first attempts to contaminate the body and then the soul in order to distance it from its God. But Satan, even here, faces a great problem. Because all these actions are visible and therefore perceived a pious man repents easier and quicker. So with the fire of his repentance he burns the evil nets which Satan has set and doesn't allow him to easily reign over his soul. 

3. Spiritual infancy with repentance

Spiritual infancy with repentance


3rd Epistle

My beloved child,
You keep telling me how much you would like to follow the path of spiritual infancy in order to reach God’s embrace, but you are afraid that you may not be able to manage it because you commit many mistakes and sins.
Do you know anyone who doesn’t make any mistakes or sin? I truly say to you, there is no man living on earth even for one day that doesn’t commit a mistake, because man’s mind is continuously being tempted by evil and sin. Although our Lord is well aware of this He encourages us to: "Be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1: 16)
So, could He encourage us to do something if He knew that this would not be feasible? No. He encourages us to do something that is feasible and a great victory over Satan. 

2. The wonderful path of spiritual infancy

The wonderful path of spiritual infancy



2nd Epistle

My dear child,
I am pleased with your decision to become a little child in God’s arms and to fight with all the strength of your soul to enter deep into our well-beloved God the Father’s heart.
There are many joys that a child can give to his heavenly Father, but none of them is greater and stronger than the one you now choose. A little child is always something special to his parents, especially when he is still an infant. A mother’s love for her infant has no limits. Her baby means everything to her. He’s her life, that’s why she can’t compare him to anything else on this earth. Motherly love is the closest thing to God’s love, that’s why it is considered the perfect image of motherly love that God has for mankind. 

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