Counsels from the Holy Mountain

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 21/5/2010, 03:33

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

1.
I always pray to our good God that you walk the true path of the monastic life. Do not forget against what enemy we are conducting the war and the battles, for salvation should not be pursued superficially. Compel yourselves; think about the reason why we became monks. We abandoned parents, brothers, sisters; if, however, we do not also abandon our own will and are not obedient, then we shall not find mercy when our souls are judged. Reflect on eternal punishment and do not forget paradise; for we shall earn one of the two. For the sake of us unworthy ones, Christ showed perfect obedience to His Heavenly Father, as well as to His Mother according to the flesh—our Panagia—and to Joseph the Betrothed; how much more should we cut off our will and have obedience to our spiritual father on account of our sins! The martyrs will present, as a fruit of their piety, their terrible martyrdoms; the confessors, their holy confession; the holy hierarchs, their labors against heresies; the monastics, their ascetic struggles; what will we (and first of all, I ) present? If, however, we are obedient and cut off our will for the love of our Christ, we have also borne fruit; we will also offer something, so that we will not go empty-handed like the slothful servant (vid. Mt. 25:24-30 ).

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 22/5/2010, 02:25

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

2.
Pay close attention to your obedience. If you carry it out well, you will gain eternal life through it; if not, punishment will be your end. So wake up from forgetfulness and indolence. It is time for us to rise from the sleep of negligence—for the end of our life is unknown. When will we wake up? When the Archangel comes to take our soul? Waking up then is of no use. The future life is the time for crowns; now is the time for struggling, laboring, and wrestling. Compel yourselves; say the prayer; stop idle talk; close your mouths to criticism; place doors and locks against unnecessary words. Time passes and does not come back, and woe to us if time goes by without spiritual profit. This is what I write to you; this is what you should meditate on; this is what you should do. May the God of love be with you, and may our sweet Panagia strengthen and enlighten you and make you eager for the struggle.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 23/5/2010, 03:11

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

3.
Become last if you want to become first. When one disobeys and distresses his spiritual father, then God is also grieved. Our Christ showed us through His deeds the greatness of holy obedience, for He sacrificed Himself for the sake of obedience to His Father, “Therefore He has given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9 ). Indeed, he who has perfect obedience will be counted worthy to receive a great name in heaven, a name of sonship, which will be revered even by the angels—a double crown in the heavenly glory. St. Palamon said, “He who submits himself well has no need to pay attention to the commandments of Christ”. Why? Because through perfect obedience he has fulfilled all of Christ’s commandments, and therefore it is unnecessary to ask if he has carried them out. Obedience has genuine humility in its bosom. Wherever there is humility, there is the scent of Christ, the fragrance of God.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 26/5/2010, 02:25

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

4.
A struggle that has as its driving force absolute obedience which lacks curious inquiry and is “blind” is considered very lawful by the Holy Fathers. This struggle is the safest and most perfect because obedience includes humility, and wherever there is humility, there is lawfulness and safety. Espouse perfect obedience and humility, my child, and then you will know that you are struggling lawfully. Obedience does not merely mean carrying out your assigned task, but it primarily signifies submitting readily to the advice that your Elder gives—that is, obeying whatever he advises you regarding your spiritual struggle. Do not undertake any struggle without your Elder’s knowledge. In the old days, disciples* would even tell their Elder how many cups of water they would drink, so that their Elder would know everything in order that they would not be deluded and lose the reward for all their labors.

*Disciple (υποτακτικός )
Taken in the broad sense, the word “disciple” refers to every Christian who receives spiritual guidance from his spiritual father. In the monastic life, though, it applies to a monk who obeys an elder so that his soul may be healed from the passions and attain theosis by the grace of God.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 27/5/2010, 03:28

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

5.
What is more blessed than obedience for the sake of God! What spiritual course is safer than this! Therefore, run with joy in order to gain possession of the unfading crown of obedience with which the Champion of lofty obedience, Jesus, will adorn the head of each disciple who has contested. Be obedient to the Elder, as if obeying the Lord. Compel yourselves in your spiritual struggle, and above all in obedience, which is the disciple’s adornment. A disciple without obedience is a barren womb, whereas when he is adorned with obedience and cuts off every bit of self-will, he is a fruitful womb. The disciple has the advantage of finding the will of God easily through his Elder. Oh, what a great advantage this is! Other people are completely at a loss and ask themselves, “Should I do this, or that?” They literally suffer, remain irresolute, and lose time—for today, due to our poor prayer, we rarely find the will of God precisely, and this is why we shipwreck constantly. Therefore, my children, since the love of God has had so much mercy on you, in that without labor you can find His will, hasten to the haven of obedience with faith and confidence, and it will continuously show you His will, which is eternal life and blessed repose for souls. Continuously, night and day, I hear confessions. What don’t I hear, and what don’t I learn! Problems without end, without a solution. And I know what a triumph is accomplished through obedience with confidence in one’s guide, and what tempests and shipwrecks are suffered by those who rely on themselves because of their egotism. The result is that they pass from darkness to darkness, and from smaller errors to greater, going astray because of their arrogance.


Έχει επεξεργασθεί από τον/την silver στις 28/5/2010, 03:59, 1 φορά

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 28/5/2010, 03:58

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

6.
O thrice-blessed obedience, what grandeur you conceal! Whoever has loved you has become rich from your beauty,
has become childlike in Christ, and has humbled himself like a child.
Therefore, he will also enter into the kingdom of Heaven rejoicing—exactly as the Lord said: “If you do not turn and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”(Mt. 18:3 ).
A little child is characterized mainly by simplicity, innocence, and obedience to his dear mommy.
So obedience makes spiritual babes: babes in malice, but mature in the wisdom of God.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 30/5/2010, 04:18

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

7.
My child, follow faithfully behind me and do not fear. Tend to obedience, especially spiritual obedience. He who has obedience has eternal life, for all the virtues are contained within perfect obedience, and especially the soul’s freedom from having to give an account. My child, a disciple must show perfect obedience to his Elder with self-sacrifice and eagerness, as if seeing Christ before him. See to it, my child, that your obedience is sincere and complete. Hate self-will as the death of your immortal soul. Take Adam and Eve as an example, who were disobedient to the divine will and suffered the penance of banishment. Do not contradict the Elder; reflect that he represent the divine will. Every transgression and disobedience is punished in proportion to the sin. A disciple ought to keep his place steadfastly, so that he cannot be shaken. He should be obedient wherever he is placed and die fulfilling his duty; this is called obedience unto death, even death on a cross.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 31/5/2010, 01:35

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

8.
My beloved children in Christ, may the grace of our Christ be with you and may the holy prayers of my holy father Joseph guard you powerfully in my absence, since the spiritual union in Christ of a good disciple with his Elder is never broken. My dear children, who fill my wretched soul with fragrance, remember the words which I spoke to you when I was with you, for when you remember my words and keep them, you are under spiritual obedience, the best type of obedience. And one who has such obedience becomes like Christ Jesus, because Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, wherefore His Father has exalted Him and given Him the name Jesus, and at the name of Jesus all the powers of darkness shudder and tremble (Phil. 2:8 ). He who has obedience already in this life lives the life of the Spirit, which will be continued even after death, unto the ages of ages. Let us reflect that we were not crucified for our Christ, our Savior, but He for us monsters suffered the Cross, the Cross for the sake of obedience.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 1/6/2010, 08:36

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

9.
There is no better path than obedience, for it gives to the one who loves it happiness,
repose, freedom from responsibility, forgiveness, and a multitude of other good things—but first and foremost,
protection from the snares of Satan, because he is safely guided by the experience of his spiritual father,
and thus he walks the path of the spiritual life without many obstacles.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 2/6/2010, 04:24

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

10.
All disciples who cut off their own will and please their Elder in everything are considered martyrs by intention, without undergoing various bodily tortures. The majority of martyrs finished their life in a very brief time of martyric torture, whereas the martyrdom of monastic obedience is worked out for life, and consequently, it is considered a martyrdom of conscience. For this reason, I entreat all of you to be attentive to your obedience. This obedience of yours is offered to God through your Elder. What will it benefit us if we have left the world and relatives, yet do not fulfill everything that we have promised to God? What account will we give? Let us, therefore, walk the path of absolute obedience wholeheartedly and thus our souls will gain the grace of God.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 3/6/2010, 03:03

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

11.
Whoever puts into practice everything his spiritual father advises has his blessing; whoever does not do what he is advised does not have the blessing of his Elder here or in the other world. Whoever disregards whatever he is commanded, whoever does not regard as law the things which he is advised and does not strive to apply them out of disdain, must realize that damnation will befall him! My child, fear the righteous Judge and be obedient to your spiritual father’s advice, for your Elder desires the salvation of your soul, whereas the devil desires to make you his own through egotism and disobedience.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 4/6/2010, 02:52

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

12.
Be obedient, I entreat you; without hesitation or surliness endeavor to please your father according to the spirit. With him you live and will live; why do you grieve him? It is not advantageous to your soul that he sighs for you. You cannot be edified like that. You will be in ruins until the end if you do not correct your disobedience. Look at how the disciples of old shone: they sacrificed everything on the altar of obedience and pleased the heart of their spiritual guides with perfect faith and love towards them. You, however, first examine whether the Elder’s words will work, and then you are obedient or disobedient, accordingly. Such obedience is good for nothing! Not thoughts—but deeds! Not objections—but death! Death through obedience! Only thus will we be justified before God when we carry out our duties.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 5/6/2010, 03:41

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

13.


Obedience is the “panagia”* of the disciple: just as a panagia distinguishes the bishop from the priest, so also obedience reveals the good disciple from the unsubmissive. Love your spiritual father and be obedient to him as to God, for it is he who has the next position in the hierarchy. You will find great grace when you obey your Elder for God’s sake. Do not grieve him in order not to grieve the Holy Spirit, Who anointed him a successor to the Apostles. Elders are their final successors and occupy this position hierarchically through the Holy Spirit. Consequently, those who grieve them grieve the Holy Spirit.

*A “panagia” is the medallion a bishop wears around his neck that has an icon of the Panagia.


Έχει επεξεργασθεί από τον/την silver στις 7/6/2010, 01:46, 1 φορά

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 7/6/2010, 01:44

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

14.
You, my children, take care to guard what you have received unadulterated and pure. Be attentive to observe the whole rule, just as I gave it to you. For every transgression and disobedience receives, according to the Apostle Paul, a “just reward” (Heb. 2:2 ). Fear the punishment of disobedience. Whoever disobeys resembles the disobedient Adam and Lucifer who rebelled against God, who both miserably fell away from God. Abba Barsanuphius says that a disciple who disobeys his Elder is a “son of the devil”. I pray for you from my heart that you become perfect disciples, so that you shine like angels in the midst of the angels of God, so that you sing hymns and pray for me, too, your wretched and unworthy Elder, who teaches without practicing anything at all of what is taught.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 9/6/2010, 02:37

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

15.
It is characteristic that one who does not have obedience does not have humility either, and he is secretly robbed by pride. And how is it possible for pride to result in correct judgment and decisions beneficial for the soul? Therefore, we must be humble for divine enlightenment to come, for the humble gain wisdom and discernment, while the proud acquire an evil and warped conscience. For this reason they also misunderstand the texts of the sacred Scriptures and of the holy Fathers, since humility, with a pure and enlightened conscience, is absent. “A self-advised man is his own enemy”. That is, one who listens to what his thoughts tell him and does not listen to the advice of his superiors, becomes his own foe. Therefore, be careful, my children, and do nothing at all without the advice of your Elder, if you desire to walk the monastic path successfully. For if you do your own will, you should know that you will walk crookedly, and the more time passes, the more the crookedness will be strengthened. Eventually a time will come when you will want to “straighten out” and you will not be able to.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 10/6/2010, 02:50

Chapter Five

On Obedience, Disobedience,
and Cutting off of the Will.

16.
I pray that all of you who are obedient to your Elder may have the blessing and grace of the Holy Spirit, behold the face of God, and dwell with the angels of heaven eternally. But as for all of you who disobey and contradict and quarrel and disregard your conscience, may God slap you so that you reform and come to yourselves, for “wherever words do not work, a rod does”. My great paternal love, my suffering for your correction, and my longing for your salvation compel me to behave strictly whenever some stray, for if the evil remains uncontrolled and unpunished, the responsibility falls upon both those in charge and those in submission.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 11/6/2010, 03:48

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.



In Katounakia on the Holy Mountain there was an elder by the name of Father Cyril, and he had a disciple named Father John. This disciple grieved and saddened his elder by his frequent disobedience. As time passed, this disciple began to feel physically ill. Before he became completely possessed by the demon, he behaved like an irrational person. He used to go with our fathers, Father Athanasios and Father Joseph, to gather hazelnuts, but he couldn’t. This person smelled like sulfur—I know this from my own personal experience. He had deranged thoughts, and his face showed his whole condition. Now and then he would come to our elder, Elder Joseph, to reveal his thoughts and seek advice, but he would not be obedient in anything. Before his elder, Father Cyril, died, he told him, “My child, when I die, bury me here”. When his elder died, however, he buried him elsewhere. The other fathers advised him not to disobey—be it even now—but to fulfill the last wish of his elder. But he replied, “No! I want to bury him here”. Once he buried him, the devil appeared before him and said to him, “Fool! I was the one who did all this to you. I was the one who incited you to grieve your elder with all your disobedience”. And as he opened his mouth, the devil entered inside him. From then on, he did crazy things…. When they chanted the Cherubic Hymn, he ridiculed them and acted like a wolf, like a wild beast. He took an axe and hacked at the icon* of St. John the Theologian. He would wander around all over the place. Now and then he would come to his senses. One day at noon we heard the cries of a fox. Father Joseph the Cypriot said to me, “Just look how audacious that fox is! Isn’t it afraid to howl in broad daylight?”
I said to him, “That’s not a fox; it’s that possessed man, Father John”. “I don’t believe it”, he replied. “Then wait and see”, I told him. And sure enough, in a little while Father John passed by in front of our house! I am telling you all these things so that you understand the importance of obedience, and also as a warning, because it will be very useful to you in the future. Another time, when Father John was in his right mind, he came to see my Elder. According to the typikon** we had there, and according to the rule of our Elder, I had to leave. As soon as I saw a visitor, I disappeared. So as soon as he came, I went to the adjacent cell and sat down there. Elder Joseph was sitting on a little stool. Father John came and sat down beside him. I knew from my Elder that he was possessed, because my Elder frequently told me about him for my instruction and experience. While I was sitting in the adjacent cell, I could hear what Father John said and how my Elder advised him. “Geronda”, Father John began, “when the demon seizes me, he lifts me up, he hits me, I speak incoherently, I do irrational things, and I find myself a mere spectator of what my body does and what my mouth says! I am a spectator, and I am unable to do anything, while all my members obey the devil!” After Elder Joseph’s repose when we were still at New Skete***, we had a lot of work and trouble fixing up our cell. The tempter made one of the fathers upset me with something. I kept telling him, “Don’t act like that; it is not to your advantage”. Finally, God gave him the personal experience to see that he should not behave like that. So one day during Great Compline—it was Lent—while he was reading at the lectern, he stopped reading for a moment, came over to me, and, terrified, he said to me, “Geronda, I am being possessed!” “Why do you say that?” I ask him. “Look”, he answered, “each one of my fingers is becoming as dig as my arm. My hand is swelling and is becoming three, four times its normal size by demonic activity! I am perishing, Geronda; cross me before I am possessed!” Then I crossed him and said, “All right, now go and read Compline, and next time be careful not to talk back and not to have a different opinion than the elder, because it is not to your advantage”. So after being crossed, he was delivered from it and came to himself, and trembling, went back to read. The feats of an obedient disciple are great. Those who obey and do not sadden their elder achieve angelic feats. Through obedience, a disciple receives much grace. The Apostle Paul, even though he was teaching Christians, stressed the basic virtue, obedience—that we must give joy to the spiritual fathers with our spiritual progress, for they watch out for our souls, as he said (cf. Heb. 13:17 ). It is not to our benefit to sadden and grieve those who struggle for the good of our soul. When we do not find rest or benefit in obedience, something is not going well; we are missing something. When a disciple is counseled by his elder about this or that, he should not take it merely as advice. In essence it is a command, even if it is not explicitly stated clearly as such. For example, the elder counsels: “My child, be obedient, say the prayer, drive away evil thoughts as soon as they come, because the longer they stay and settle down, the more they defile the soul. But even if they leave after a long time, they will still leave spots and blemishes behind!” Or when he says: “As soon as the talanton**** is struck, go down to church at once”. Or: “In church, don’t move around easily, but be patient in your seat, and only move when there is some great need”. When a monk does not obey every counsel and exhortation his elder gives him, he is being disobedient. Does the elder have to say explicitly, “I command you to do this and that”, so that the monk is afraid and obeys? Of course not. Commands are given only in particular circumstances. When someone comes to the monastery to become a disciple, it is very clear that he does not come for the abbot’s sake or for the monastery’s sake. It is clear—crystal clear—that he comes for the love of Christ and for the salvation of his soul. But since he does not see Christ, in order to be obedient to Him, Christ has left His representative (the abbot of the monastery ) so that a disciple can show him the obedience he desires to show to Christ. Every spiritual father is an icon of Christ. So corresponding to how one obeys his spiritual father, he obeys Christ. It is a terrible sin to act impiously towards an icon of Christ, the Panagia, or the saints. Nothing is considered to be worse than this. In this case, it is an icon that depicts a divine person—we venerate and kiss it, and the veneration is transferred to that person himself. The spiritual father bears the living image of Christ, and the disciple is commanded to obey him and respect him solely for the love of Christ—not for the person of the elder, because he might be a sinful person; he might be on his way to hell, as I am.
However, obedience has another meaning: it is passed on directly to Christ. Since the love of Christ has called us to come here to struggle and save our souls, we must employ every means to acquire this basic virtue of obedience, which also has a universal quality: when you see a good disciple, you know that he has not only obedience, but many other virtues and achievements as well. Another one of the many examples my holy Elder told us in order to strengthen our obedience and faith and love towards the person of the elder is the following, which happened in Katounakia. There was a disciple who used to love his elder very much and was very obedient to him. Once they went up to Karyes. His elder became seriously ill there and wanted to return to his cell. So the disciple took him on his shoulders, and after walking for hours along the mountain ridge, he brought him back to Katounakia where they lived. Later, this monk affiliated himself with a synodia at St. Basil’s, where the fathers received communion without fasting. He wanted to leave his elder and go there to continue his monastic life. Even though he was a great schema monk, he wanted to leave his elder and go there. His elder told him, “You shall not go”. He answered, “Yes I will!” “My child”, the elder replied, “don’t go. Pascha is coming; stay here so that we can celebrate the Resurrection together”. “No, I’m going”, he repeated. One day the elder lost his patience and said, “May an evil angel pursue you”. The following day, a large pimple appeared on his nose and began to swell. Finally, he ended up going to Father Artemios, a self-taught doctor who had healed both Elder Joseph and me. He showed him the pimple, but he couldn’t cure him. In three or four days the swelling increased. The pimple burst and ran with pus, and he was approaching death. The fathers told him, “For the love of Christ, be reconciled with your elder so that he may forgive you and so that you may take his blessing with you”. “No!” he kept saying. He had become fierce as if he were possessed! But in the end, when he was about to breathe his last, he beat his breast, saying these words: “I lost! I lost! I lost my salvation!!!” My Elder used to tell us very many stories, because he knew many monks of the past. In the patristic***** writings is written the story of a good disciple whose elder counseled him every day after Compline. He would advise him regarding obedience and what he must do in order to be saved. One day the elder dozed off as he was talking. Then the devil began to disturb the disciple with thoughts, saying: “Leave, since your elder has fallen asleep. Why are you just sitting around? You should also go rest now; you are tired”, and so on. “But how can I go?” he thought. “I have to get Geronda’s blessing first”. “But he’s sleeping now”, his thoughts told him. “It doesn’t matter; I’ll be patient”. These thoughts of leaving fought against him seven times, but he wouldn’t leave. Hours later, when it was almost time for Matins, the elder woke up and said to him, “Didn’t you go rest yet?” “I couldn’t, Geronda, without your blessing”. “Then why didn’t you wake me up?” “It doesn’t matter, Geronda, I wanted to be obedient and patient”. “Fine. Let’s do Matins now, and then go rest well”. And that is what happened. When the elder went back to sleep again after Matins, he saw that he was in a chamber full of light, and in it was a resplendent throne, and on the seat of the throne were seven crowns with much grace. The elder wondered and said “Who knows what great saint and holy man this throne belongs to, and what struggles he must have done to win these crowns!” And as he was standing there, lo and behold, a venerable person approached and said to him, “What are you marveling at, Geronda?”
“I’m marveling at the throne’s splendor and thinking that it must be the throne of some great saint”. “No”. he said, “it doesn’t belong to some great saint, but to your disciple”. “But that’s impossible”, the elder said. “He is still very young, and he came just recently—and he has a throne and crowns already?” “He certainly does! He was given the throne from the moment he did his metanoia of obedience,****** and he received the seven crowns last night by opposing thoughts”.
Then he came to himself and called his disciple and asked him, “My child, what thoughts did you have yesterday?” “I didn’t have any in particular, Geronda. I don’t remember having any bad thoughts”. “Try thinking a little harder; review the day step by step”. And then, as he was examining himself, he said, “Yes, yes, Geronda, last night after Compline after you fell asleep, the thought to leave you and go rest fought against me seven times, but I resisted it, and, as you saw, I waited for you”.
“Fine, my child; go”. And the elder understood that his disciple had won the seven crowns the previous night by opposing thoughts.

*Icon (εικών )
Αn icon is a two-dimensional sacred depiction of Christ, of His saints, or of a holy event. Icons are to be venerated, not worshipped, as worship is due to God alone. As St. Basil the Great has stated, the reverence given to icons is transferred to their prototype, that is, to the one portrayed.

** Typikon (τυπικόν )
Τhe «typikon” can mean: (a ) a brotherhood’s system of rules regulating the life of a monk in general; or (b ) the set of rubrics governing the order of liturgical services.

*** Skete (σκήτη )
A skete is a small monastic village, usually consisting of a central church and several “cells”. Cells are monastic houses, each with its own synodia and usually with its own chapel.

**** Talanton
A “talanton” is a specially shaped wooden plank that is struck in monasteries before services begin.

***** Patristic (πατερικός )
This adjective is used to describe something of, or relating to, the Holy Fathers of the Church.

****** metanoia of obedience
Once a person has chosen his spiritual father and is accepted by him, he does a metanoia symbolizing his submission.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 13/6/2010, 02:14

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.




Monastic Obedient

By the example of our Jesus, Who humbled Himself so much, we are taught the grandeur that is hidden within obedient. Obedience is not merely obeying the elder, but it is also obeying every commandment of God. Here the elder gives commands, but above all, it is God Who does so with His commandments: “Thou shalt…” If a person is obedient, he will later enjoy the fruits of this obedience. Christ humbled Himself out of obedience to His heavenly Father. He obeyed as a man in order to teach us the lofty virtue of obedience, for without humility, one cannot approach God. We see that Adam and Eve in Paradise were happy as long as they were obedient and kept the commandment of God—that is, not to eat the forbidden fruit. They were the king and queen of all creation; they ruled over all; they were happy, and they felt and saw God. The life they lived was the most blessed life. They had the protection of God; no one troubled them; no one condemned them. They were free to walk within Paradise without fear, without a remorseful conscience. Why? Because they had not fallen into any sin against God. Later, when they misused their freedom and wanted, as free beings, to transgress the commandment, they did so and sinned against God. Right after their sin, remorse leaped up. Immediately after their fall, their consciences began to disturb and oppress their souls. It is clear that the reproof of the conscience was a result of transgression, of sin. After the Fall, Adam and Eve found themselves at an impasse. “They heard God walking in Paradise”, say the Scriptures, “and they were afraid and hid themselves”! (cf. Gen. 3:9 ). Previously, however, when they had not sinned against God, why weren’t they afraid of Him? Was this, perhaps, the only time God walked in Paradise? Since they were His genuine children, didn’t He visit them and walk in Paradise? But they were not afraid of Him then because their conscience did not reprehend them; it was full of tranquility and peace, and so they also remained at peace. So, “As God was walking in Paradise, they both hid themselves, for they were afraid of God”. God said to them, “Adam and Eve, where are you? Where have you hidden?” what could they say to God now? “Adam, why did you hide?” “I was afraid”, said Adam. “I heard You walking in Paradise, and I was afraid”. “But why should you be afraid? Are you afraid of your Father, your Creator, your Benefactor? Are you afraid of Me approaching, Who out of boundless divine love gave you an entire Paradise? Happiness Itself, the Fountain of life, joy, and peace approaches and you are afraid?”
“Yes”, replied Adam. “I am afraid because I made a mistake. But it’s not my fault; it’s Eve’s, that woman You gave me. She’s the one who pushed me, who urged me to, and then I transgressed Your commandment and ate the forbidden fruit”. “Eve”, said God, “why did you deceive your husband? Why did you eat it?” “It’s not my fault”, said Eve. “The serpent—which You, of course, created and put here in Paradise—is the one that told me to eat. And he told me that if I ate this fruit I would become equal to God and would know good and evil”. One sees here outright egotism and back talk. Egotism results in back talk in the mind and heart. It rises up against God and indirectly throws the responsibility on Him. So, since God did not see repentance or hear an apology, He immediately ordered their exile. This dialogue between God and Adam and Eve gives us the precious advice and teaching that God does not abandon man when he transgresses His commandment. He does not condemn him immediately, but He approaches him. But how does He approach him? Man doesn’t hear Him walking, as Adam did! I, however, hear Him very distinctly reproving me and saying to me, “You did badly here. There you did not do well. Why are you doing this?” through our conscience God cries out, “Repent; you are human”. Man is easily corrupted; he falls easily; he is changeable, mutable, prone to fall. God knows this because He formed us. He made us human. But He also gave us the grace to repent; He has given us the power to arise. Why don’t you do this? When He reproves you through your conscience and exhorts you through the Scriptures to repent, and you do not do so, then the condemnation and punishment begin. Let us change the subject now to our way of life. Again, we see here that as long as one practices obedience, he lives happily. His conscience does not reprove him; it does not trouble him; it does not disturb him at all. When he does not obey well, his conscience reproves him and says, “You did badly here”. Again egotism shouts, “No!” The conscience repeats, “You ought to repent”. And thus there is a disturbance, a war begins, and a state of reproof is created in the soul. Such a state of reproof and disturbance, however, does not exist in a good disciple, but he lives in peace and tranquility with the good hope of the future eternal restoration* in God. Now we are in a cenobitic** monastery, which operates under a certain order, law, regulation, discipline, admonition, and obedience.
When a disciple does not properly apply the order, admonitions, and commands of both God and the elder, then he feels reproof within himself. The Fathers kept obedience with such exactitude that it is written that they would even ask, “Is it good that I drink ten sips of water a day?” What are they trying to tell us with this teaching and counsel and exhortation? They are trying to teach us how much exactitude we should have in obeying the counsels and orders of the elder. Furthermore, the Fathers tell us that we make fools of ourselves when we have given up our parents, the world, freedom, and then we make a spectacle of ourselves before God, the angels, men, and the demons when they see us quarrel over a needle, a thread, or the merest trifle. We have promised to God to have self-denial. What does self-denial mean? It means denying our passions and all our will. But when we do our own will and do things without a blessing to please and serve ourselves, do you think we are practicing obedience? If we shall give an account to God for one idle word (cf. Mt. 12:36 ), won’t we give an account for one act of self-will? When we became monks, we promised self-denial and obedience till death. How, then, shall we justify ourselves when we stand before the humble Jesus, the utterly obedient One, when He shows us the wounds of the nails and the crucifixion? When He says to us, “Behold how much I obeyed the heavenly Father and cut off my will. I did not cut off my will with regard to a needle, a thread, or some very minor command, but I cut off my will to the point of death, even death on a cross (cf. Phil. 2:8 ). But when, for example, we are reproved for an act of self-will, at once we get upset and there is a war within us. When something clashes with the desire of our self-will, we find an enormous upheaval of everything within us. We see our Christ receiving an order and saying, “If it is possible, let this hour, this cup pass from Me, and let man be saved differently” (cf. Mt. 26:39 ). But the Father’s answer was, “No, You will proceed the way of the Cross and of Golgotha”. “May Thy will be done”. Therefore, we should be attentive to our conscience and not do anything without the elder’s knowledge. For although now we are happy doing our own will and are pleased with it and are fulfilling our hearts’ desire, the hour will certainly come when we shall find ourselves in a very difficult situation. Then we shall recall our former life and seek time for repentance and correction, but it will be too late! Now that we are able to correct things, let us do so. Let us not do anything without a blessing.
In The Sayings of the Desert Fathers it is written that a certain nun went to the garden and, without a blessing, took some lettuce and ate it, and a demon entered inside her. She then started behaving like a possessed person. So they called the elder to make her well. He rebuked the demon and asked it, “Why did you enter inside the sister?” “It’s not my fault”, said the demon. “I was just sitting on the lettuce and she ate me!” The demon entered this nun physically, whereas when we do similar deeds and acts of self-will, the demon enters us differently: through our guilt. This is worse, because that demon was apparent, and in the end came to the attention of the elder, and the nun was healed. But when we transgress, the demon remains within and this is worse. The Fathers say: “It is not such a great thing for a demon to be cast out of a person. It is a far greater achievement to be able to cast out a demonic passion”. A saint can cast out a demon, but to cast out a passion requires a personal struggle. It is precisely for this reason that we should not labor in vain and lose our time and be deceived, thinking that we are on the right path of the monastic life and practice obedience, being content and self-complacent, when in fact we are transgressors. Perhaps we are being fooled by our thoughts—or rather our conceit—saying: “This is nothing, that doesn’t matter. It’s no big deal if I do this, too”. Yet in reality it is a transgression of the divine law. And let us not forget that although we may modify it, the law of God is immutable, unchangeable, and constant, and one day it will be fully applied—when we are judged by it!

silver

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 14/6/2010, 02:28

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.




Patristic Obedience

Through humility the Holy Fathers attained great degrees of grace. But can’t a disciple achieve such success? Of course he can. If he keeps silence, attends to his spiritual duties, and keeps himself free from cares, if he maintains introspection and regularly takes account of himself, he will definitely make progress. When we were with Elder Joseph, we were disciples. We had our diakonema*, the daily labor, etc. With our Elder as an experienced guide in these divine paths of the spiritual life, some of the fathers were able to come to know those things that the Watchful Fathers have left us as a sacred heritage. We should avoid saying unnecessary things. Let us be consistent in doing our prayer rule. Likewise, let us be punctual in going to church. We should be in church to hear the service, the Liturgy, Vespers. We should be all together in the refectory; we should have order in everything. “Wherever there is order, there is peace; wherever there is peace, there is God. Wherever there is disorder, there is confusion; wherever there is confusion, there is the devil”. “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40 ). As disciples, let us practice our obedience. Let us not do our own will. Self-will cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise. Christ’s submission of His will to His Father brought Adam and Eve back into Paradise again, and thus obedience triumphed. Lucifer disobeyed God. He proudly fantasized about equality with God, and God sent him far from Himself, and he became the devil who fights against us. The other ranks of the angels remained loyal and obedient to God and still remain in the presence of His glory. Though they used to be angels changeable by nature, they became incapable of falling by grace, for they learned so much from the falls of Lucifer and man that now they are unshakeable in their obedience to God. How evil is the will of man, for concealed within it are pride, self-love, and so many other passions. That is why a disciple who has been freed from self-will is freed from the passions. Christ was obedient to the point of death on the Cross, that is, a complete mortification of self-will. If Christ as Man had not been obedient, if He had not cut off His own will, man would not have been saved! In exactly the same way, a person who holds on to his own will and does what he wants is not saved. What does denying one’s will mean? It means putting it away from oneself, renouncing it, not having anything to do with it. Only when a disciple does away with his will in this manner is he delivered from the passions. The more he renounces his own will, the more he is relieved from the passions. If a disciple knows in practice how to say “Bless” and “May it be blessed”, this disciple will be crowned with an unfading crown in the heavenly world. Wherever a disciple has put forth his own will, he has injected poison, and with this poison he poisons himself. Even if the command he is given is wrong, God will bless it anyway for obedience’s sake. There was a disciple who had such unquestioning obedience that his elder would tell him to go steal various things from the brethren’s cells, and he would go and do so! The elder would then take them and give them back to the brethren. He was never bothered when thoughts told him, “Hey, what is the elder doing to me? Is he inciting me, is he teaching me how to steal? And later I’ll have the habit of stealing!” Instead, he thought about it and said, “I am being obedient. Now, what it is that I am doing, I don’t know. I know only one thing—that I am being obedient”. Someone went and became a disciple of an elder who had a synodia. The elder told him, “Since you want to live in my synodia, I order you never to say a single word—to become mute for the sake of Christ!” He replied, “May it be blessed”. After he had spent some time in this synodia, the elder saw that it was not to his benefit to continue living there. So one day he told him, “I am going to send you to another elder, to another monastery”. And he gave him a note and said, “Go to such-and-such monastery, and give this to the abbot and stay there”. The abbot received the letter—it was a letter of recommendation that said, “Geronda, please keep this brother. He is a good monk”, and so forth. So he kept him. After a while, this monk died, without ever breaking his silence. After his death, the second elder wrote to the first elder, “Even though the brother you sent me was mute, he was a real angel!” Then the first elder answered, “He wasn’t born mute, but he remained silent out of obedience!” And the second elder marveled at the strength of this brother and how well he adhered to the command of his first elder! What I am trying to say is that complete renunciation of self-will sanctifies us. Many times I think to myself, “How much a perfectly obedient disciple will be honored by Christ, Who is first in obedience! And how is it possible for Christ not to take the perfectly obedient disciple in His synodia, where they will see His face eternally, as St. John the Theologian writes in the Book of Revelation? (vid. Rev. 22:4 ). We monks of today hold on to our self-will very tightly, and thus we are unable to progress further. We do not say, “Bless” and “May it be blessed”, but we say, “No, not like that. This is how it should be done”, etc., and in this way we pour poison on ourselves and on our lives. And this is why we do not have the progress that good monks do. We read in the books, in the Fathers, about some holy disciples. Just think, there was an abbot who put an ox in the cell of one of his disciples, and for so many years it kept ruining his yarn and his loom! And, of course, the ox must have done many other things to him in there. He wouldn’t have had any quiet at all! In spite of all this, he never had any resentful thoughts—as he told Abba Paphnoutios “Never, Abba, did a bad thought about my Elder cross my mind, questioning why he put the ox in my cell. But since he put it, he knows what he is doing, and I am at rest with that”. He did not have his own way of thinking. His elder’s way of thinking was also his. This is why we say, “If we don’t have spiritual obedience, we haven’t achieved anything at all”. When we do not want what the elder wants, we are not in essence disciples—we do not have spiritual obedience. Even if we are obedient in our actions, it is as if we were humans with a body but no soul (as if it were at all possible for someone with only a body to be considered a real person ), which is something logically unacceptable. In exactly the same way, it is logically unacceptable from a spiritual point of view for one to be called a disciple if he has obedience only in his actions and at his diakonema. Above all, one must have a soul: one must have spiritual obedience. One should say, “Whatever the elder believes, thinks, and decides, I also believe, think, and decide in exactly the same way”. St. Symeon the New Theologian received the blessing from above solely for his obedience. He is a very strong and clear example for us. St. Paisios told his disciple one day: “My child, go drink water from that wash-basin”. The disciple thought to himself, “Instead of the Elder telling me to go drink from the pitcher or from the fountain—since I have come from my diakonema tired and sweaty—he tells me to drink from this dirty water in the basin!” He trusted his own thoughts and missed out on a great blessing! Later he thought, “Why don’t I go drink it?” But he didn’t find any water. Then Abba Paisios said to him, “You poor fellow! Do you know what that rinse water was? It was water that had washed the feet of Christ!” From then on, a spirit of grief came upon him, and Abba Paisios tried to console him, but how could he? He reached the point of having no peace at all. Then one day the saint told him (since he couldn’t be at peace and remain beside him ), “Go to such and such a place. There are three tombs there, and in front of one of them (he indicated which ) say a prayer and pay attention to what you will hear”. He did so, and heard a voice saying, “Go back to your Elder and be obedient”. But he had already shipwrecked internally. The house of his soul had been damaged beyond repair. This is why he passed the rest of his life vacillating and storm-tossed in his obedience to Abba Paisios. While St. Symeon the New Theologian triumphed against his own will and received the theology from above for his perfect obedience, the other monk, by doing his own will, remained outside obedience and grace. Of course, these are just a few examples. For if everything done by those Fathers—those excellent disciples—were written down, entire volumes could have been compiled. These examples are like mirrors in which we can see ourselves and how we are doing. May God help each one of us to come to our senses, to see ourselves, to see how much we have renounced our own will. Let us struggle to rid ourselves of this poison so that we can live as God wills and as the monastic profession requires of us.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 15/6/2010, 03:39

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.



Homily on Conscience and Obedience

When a person remains completely obedient to his conscience and implements whatever it tells him, he is not reproved by it anymore—not that its voice has weakened, but rather because of his good obedience, his conscience has nothing to reprove. The Apostle John says that when a man’s conscience does not condemn him, he has confidence toward God (cf. 1 Jn 3:21 ). It is impossible for a person to proceed without ever stumbling somewhere, because from all sides the devil, the world, and the flesh are continuously inserting obstacles into his life, and he stumbles in proportion to his carelessness. Therefore, when he falls, he should arise at once and seek forgiveness. When one repents in proportion to the gravity of his fall, his conscience, which used to bother him, stops reproving him. We must guard our conscience on three points—with respect to God, with respect to our neighbor, and with respect to things. One guards his conscience with respect to God when he avoids the various sins. He guards his conscience with respect to his neighbor when he does not grieve him, judge him, slander him, scandalize him, or push him towards evil deeds. He guards his conscience with respect to things when he does not cause destruction or damage to material things through carelessness, negligence, or unscrupulousness. St. Theodore the Studite tells us many things about this “unscrupulousness”. When you see something burning or being damaged and you don’t pick it up and protect it, this is unscrupulousness. When your cloths get torn and you neglect them, and then they get completely ruined, this is unscrupulousness. When you are able to work but instead of working you wander around here and there, this is also unscrupulousness. When you leave your food out and it goes bad and you throw it away, this is unscrupulousness because you should have taken care to eat it before it went bad. Therefore, unscrupulousness is when one errs in any way with respect to material things, and also when one offends God in any way. The greatest wealth is obtained when one strives to preserve his conscience unburdened. But in the event that he senses that something has wounded him, he should correct it immediately, and thus he will return to his prior state. How many times has our conscience reproved us! The more a person listens to his conscience, and the more he attends to it, the more precisely it guides him. And the more discreetly it guides and reproves him, the more he ascends in purity. There is also the so-called “evil conscience”, which often comes with the pretense and shape and form of the good conscience, yet in essence it is the evil, perverted conscience, the conscience which is opposed to God. The evil conscience is that voice which teaches things deceitful, perverted, and contrary. The good conscience has humility and obedience as its starting point, source, and foundation. The evil conscience has pride and disobedience as its source. When one does not obey the Elder, when one resists, when one is deceitful, when one does not listen, then one has what is called self-reliance; such self-reliance is the evil conscience. Humble-mindedness gives birth to the good conscience. Since the two consciences are entangled, one often asks himself, “Is this the evil conscience or the good one? Should I believe this thought or that one?” So to learn—or rather to be taught—what is the good conscience, one needs to have humility; but above all, he needs to place himself under the guidance of another, his superior, his leader, his spiritual father, and to obey whatever he says. Then little by little he will begin to perceive which thoughts are evil and which are good, what is the hue of the good conscience and what is the hue of the evil conscience. Thus, on the one hand, through the teaching and guidance of his spiritual father he avoids falling, and on the other hand, in time he is taught what the hue and appearance of the two consciences are and becomes a perfect man. It is those who are without obedience who have suffered harm. For man is pressed by both consciences; the one works to save him and the other to destroy him, and many times he does not know which one to listen to. He who is under obedience avoids this danger and little by little becomes experienced and skilled in discerning the evil conscience from the good conscience. Abba Poimen had two thoughts, and he went to tell them to his spiritual father, who lived very far away—he set out in the morning and arrived in the evening. He forgot one thought, however, and told him only the other one. When he returned to his cell, as soon as he put the key in the door, he remembered the second thought. So without even opening the door, he went back again to tell him his other thought. When his spiritual father saw his labor and his exactitude, he exclaimed, “Poimen (“Poimen” in Greek means shepherd ), Poimen, shepherd of angels! Your virtue will make your name known in all the world”. For one to become experienced enough to distinguish the voice of the good conscience from the voice of the evil conscience, he must pass through obedience. If he does not pass through obedience, he is deficient. He may have gifts; he may be a good soul; he may do various good works—but you will see that he always hobbles in discernment and humility. The virtue that submission to an Elder gives is, first and foremost, discernment, which comes through humble-mindedness. That is to say, obedience forges a man’s character and gives him, above all, discernment and humility. “Ask your Father”, says the Scripture, “and he will tell you” (Deut. 32:7 ). We see this in the patristic path the saints walked. We read in the Lives of the Desert Fathers that a certain Zacharias saw a vision, but his spiritual father was not in a position to elucidate whether it was from God or from the demons. So he rebuked his disciple, telling him not to pay attention to visions. The disciple went to a discerning Elder who told him, “The vision is from God, but go and submit yourself to your spiritual father”, thus showing that being obedient is more important than seeing visions. How much the Fathers have left us for our instruction! The best road, the most correct, the safest, the most free from responsibility, is the road of submission to an Elder. “He who practices obedience”, says Abba Palamon, “has fulfilled all the commandments of Christ”. “The disciple has chosen the best road”, says Abba Moses. “Run, children, to wherever obedience is. There lie joy, peace, brotherly love, unity, vigilance, consolation, crowns, and wages”. But when we want to put forth our own will as disciples, then the road becomes difficult, rough, and dangerous. When one practices obedience, he finds himself in love, in forcefulness, in brotherly affection, in crowns, in sanctification, in salvation. Self-will is a great barrier, a great obstacle—it is a wall between the soul and God. Just as when a wall is in front of us and blocks the sun, the place is damp and unhealthful and does not bear fruit because the sun does not shine there, the same thing happens with the wall of self-will. When it stands in front of the soul, the soul is darkened and remains without fruit. The Sun of Righteousness is Christ; when the soul is not obstructed, the rays of Christ come and illuminate it, and man bears fruit and is sanctified. Only the one who has tasted the fruit of obedience can speak about it. Obedience is the most grace-filled road. Above all, one who is obedient casts out the evil demon of selfishness and pride—which causes all evils—and brings humility and freedom from care. We read in The Sayings of the Desert Fathers about two brothers who decided to become monks and left the world. One became a disciple in a cenobitic monastery; the other became a hermit. After two or three years the hermit said, “Let me go and see my brother who is in the monastery, living in the midst of cares and worries. Who knows how the poor thing is doing in the midst of so much bustle”. He was confident that through his ascesis he had reached a high spiritual level. He went to the monastery, and with the excuse that he supposedly needed his brother, he said to the abbot, “I would like to see my brother a little”. His brother came, and the abbot, who was a holy man, blessed them to go off by themselves and talk. When they had gone some distance from the monastery, they saw on the path a dead man who was almost naked. The hermit said, “Don’t we have any clothes to cover the man with?” The monk from the monastery, in his simplicity said, “Wouldn’t it be better to pray for him to be resurrected?” Lets pray”, said the hermit. They both prayed, and the dead man arose. The monk from the monastery didn’t attach much importance to the miracle; he believed it came about through the prayers of his Elder. The hermit, however, said within himself that the miracle occurred because of his own virtues—because of his ascesis and fasting, his nightly vigils and the hardship he endured, his sleeping on the ground and all his other achievements. When they returned, before they had a chance to speak, the abbot said to the hermit, “Brother, do not think that it was because of your prayers that God raised the dead man—no! God did it because of the obedience of your brother!” When the hermit saw that the abbot immediately read his thoughts, that he had the gift of clairvoyance and was a holy man, he believed that in reality he himself was deluded, and that his brother, who he thought was anxious and worried about many things within the monastery, was actually above him. Think with what confidence the disciple said, “Let’s pray for him to be resurrected!” Here you see simplicity, guilelessness, faith. The hermit considered it impossible, but the monk from the monastery considered it natural; he trusted in the prayers of his Elder. What a struggle he must have undergone to reach such humility! How his egotism and pride must have been smashed in the monastery! What person coming from the world does not have egotism and pride? How many disciples were sanctified and gave forth myrrh after death! On the Holy Mountain, in the region of St. Anne’s Skete, there was a monk who hauled sacks of wheat up from the harbor with much labor and sweat. At one point he began to say in his thoughts, “I wonder if we will have a reward for all the sweat and labor we endure in order to obey our Elders?” As he reflected on these things, he sat down to rest a little. A light sleep came upon him, and as he was half asleep, he saw the Panagia before him. “Do not be dismayed, my child” She said to him. “This sweat which you shed to haul your provisions for the sake of obedience is counted as the blood of a martyr before my Son”. Then he came to himself, and his thoughts and distress left him. The fathers inscribed that event on the stone wall there, and whoever passes by there reads it. Near the main church of St. Anne’s Skete, there is a little house called “The Patriarch’s”.
A Patriarch by the name of Cyril lived there in ascesis; he had abandoned the patriarchal throne and came to live as a simple monk. The fathers hauled their things on their backs, but they said to the Patriarch, “You are old, your All-holiness, and not accustomed to our way of life. We will get you a little donkey to load your provisions on”. So they got him a little donkey, and he went up and down the mountainside with it.
One day, as the Patriarch climbed up with the animal and the other fathers had their provisions on their backs, they sat down to rest a little. And as the Patriarch was half awake, he suddenly saw the Panagia together with the Angels. The Panagia was holding a vessel and was giving a drink to the fathers who were carrying their things on their backs; the Angels were holding handkerchiefs and wiping away their sweat. He saw with surprise that they even wiped the sweat from the donkey, and he begged them, “Wipe me also, please”. Then the Panagia said to him, “Father, you have not sweated; we will wipe the donkey because it has”. Then he woke up and came to himself. He said to the fathers, “Take away the donkey, because I am missing out on many blessings. The Panagia and the angels wiped the donkey and not me!” From then on, he also carried his things on his back. How very many such things have happened in the lives of the Fathers! If only we were there to see them! Now such things are rarely encountered; they have all been lost. So let us be attentive to our conscience. Let us acquire a good conscience through obedience, contrition, confession, and humble-mindedness. Let us avoid self-will, which begets self-reliance and the evil conscience.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 16/6/2010, 03:25

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience



Selections on Obedience

What is a more beautiful example than that of the Lord Jesus! Didn’t obedience towards His Father lead Him to the Cross and death? Couldn’t He, being of the essence with the Father, have opposed this? But no, He walked with sweat; He fell to His knees with pain beneath the weight of cutting off His will as He ascended Golgotha. But He had to ascend it, reach the top, be lifted up on the glorious—and to the demons, dreadful—Cross, and there on it show perfect and absolute obedience, and receive the unfading crown of eternal glory. This is how the resurrection of our soul is gained, and not by vacillating between obedience and disobedience with self-will. The crown is not acquired like that, but by a willingness to sacrifice. All obstacles are surmounted by the strong thought of preferring to die rather than betray the obedience of doing one’s duty.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 17/6/2010, 02:42

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience


Selections on Obedience

2. Through the obedience of Christ we were saved, whereas through the disobedience of Adam we were drawn into the abyss of hell. The road of obedience does indeed lead to Golgotha. It is uphill, and the ascent is a little laborious, and we shall sweat and be fatigued, but let us reflect that after the resurrection we shall gain purity of soul and sonship, and this wealth cannot be matched by any worldly enjoyments. What am I saying, worldly things? If one gives the entire world, he cannot buy even one drop of spiritual joy from that soul which has ascended Golgotha and seen its own resurrection.

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 18/6/2010, 03:44

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience

Selections on Obedience

3.
Christ said to His disciples, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me” (Lk.10:16 ). The successors of the Apostles are the hierarchs, the priests, the abbots, and the elders of small synodias. So whoever obeys the successors of the Apostles obeys Christ Himself, and whoever disobeys them, rejects Christ. For this reason, since we want to place ourselves under obedience to Christ, we ought to show obedience—not merely obeying what we like and disobeying what we do not want. For in Gethsemane, Christ asked that the salvation of mankind happen differently from what the Heavenly Father desired. But since the Heavenly Father decided upon the Cross, Christ then replied, “Not My will, but Thy will be done, my Father” (cf. Mt. 26:29 ).

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 19/6/2010, 04:19

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience

Selections on Obedience

3.
Christ said to His disciples, “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him Who sent Me” (Lk.10:16 ). The successors of the Apostles are the hierarchs, the priests, the abbots, and the elders of small synodias. So whoever obeys the successors of the Apostles obeys Christ Himself, and whoever disobeys them, rejects Christ. For this reason, since we want to place ourselves under obedience to Christ, we ought to show obedience—not merely obeying what we like and disobeying what we do not want. For in Gethsemane, Christ asked that the salvation of mankind happen differently from what the Heavenly Father desired. But since the Heavenly Father decided upon the Cross, Christ then replied, “Not My will, but Thy will be done, my Father” (cf. Mt. 26:29 ).

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Απ: Counsels from the Holy Mountain

Δημοσίευση  silver Την / Το 21/6/2010, 02:52

Chapter Five

Homilies on Obedience
Stories of Obedience and Disobedience.


Homily on Conscience and Obedience

Selections on Obedience

4.
Theology emanates from prayer, and prayer from perfect obedience.
Without obedience, a monk will soon lose whatever talent or gift he might have,
whereas a true disciple is fertile and fruitful with all the gifts of the Comforter and is rich now and unto the ages.

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