„Repent, for The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4, 17).
“Afflictions that come to us are the result of our own sins. But if we accept them patiently through prayer, we shall again find blessings.”
Saint Mark the Ascetic (5th–6th century), On Those Who Think They are Made Righteous by Works.
At Antim Monastery in Bucharest, not during the time of the Babylonian or the Egyptian captivity, but during the time of the Communist captivity, a spiritual life was preserved without interruption with the help of God. The services were continuous, especially the Divine Liturgy which is very beneficial for all of humanity. With all the threats hanging over our heads, the Divine Liturgy was done daily.
As you know, the communists came to power in 1945 and installed themselves with great boldness. They changed all of the ordinances that had existed up until then through a kind of societal “renewal,” which in fact would go on to pervert our Romanian and Orthodox Christian identity, it would go on to change it into hatred toward God and into unbelief. Moses once wanted to free his people from captivity in Egypt and for them to all go pray in the wilderness. But Pharaoh did not give them permission. (Exodus 5:1-5) Once the communists came to power, prayer was not really allowed here either. Many monasteries were greatly oppressed, at the same time as great disturbances and changes to the country’s ordinances took place.
„During the terrible times that we are facing, without many spiritually guides, those who want to please God through a pure life, have only God Himself and the teachings of the Holy Fathers as guidance and teacher”. (Saint Paisios of Neamț).
What was the great starets referring to by „the terrible times that we are facing” in 1766, when he was writting the words of this motto? Was he referring to temporary circumstances, as the Tatar invasion in 1758, the riots from Iași, in 1759 and Bucharest, in 1764 – 1765? Did he forsee the Russo-Austro-Turkish War that was going to devastate Moldova and Vallachia between the years 1769–1774? Without doubt he was referring to a period that was in many ways terrible, but, mainly, he was considering the spiritual twilight of mankind. This twilight was foreseen by Holy Fathers from the earliest of times. [ continuare … ]
„This is the message wich we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is not darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
(I John; 1, 5–10)
Therefore, we should hate even more the vanity of this world, we should wish to have virtues, to be spiritually rich through a great trade: prayers, tears, cleansing, enlightenment, dispassion, which are the fruits of the eternal life. And the food, the drinks, the garments and all the other things necessary to the body, should be embraced only as much as they are needed in order to live and keep the commandments of God. If we spend our time in this way, every day will be a holiday, and every day we’ll have joy and fearlessness of death. Even if tens of thousands of sorrows come upon us, there is no way that the good conscience can sink.
Saint Theodore the Studite (†826), The Small Catecheses
Our time is a terrible one with almost unaswerable problems, unexplainable situations, among the most terrible struggles. Don’t despair, but we should expect even worse, don’t despair, but know that in every moment the unseen, the non-existent, the “unyielding” God is here with us, not only in the space around me, but also in my heart; and there’s no trial allowed by Him without also giving us a way out. I don’t know what way out, but may God also guide us through unexplainable situations. [ continuare … ]