Monasteries are the Fortresses of the Church

"The Monk Is a Beacon of Light Upon the Rocks."

---Geronda [Elder], what is the work of a monk?

---The work of a monk is to become a vessel of the Holy Spirit. A monk must make his heart as sensitive as the gold leaf used by iconographers. The entire work of the monk is love (agape), just as he became a monk out of love for God, which includes love for one's neighbor. The monk meditates upon the sufferings of society, his heart is pained and he prays from the heart constantly for all the people. Thus he helps the world through his prayer.

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Saint Anthony the Great-January 17

The venerable Anthony was born in Egypt of noble parents known for their piety. He was brought up at home and had no dealing with outsiders. Because he disliked the rough company of other boys, he was unwilling to go to school, but burning with divine desire, cultivated purity of heart in solitude. Childish games held no attraction for him, and whenever his parents went to church, he accompanied them. He heeded what was read there, applying it to his own life. Unlike most worldly youths, Anthony had no interest in sweets or savory foods, but was content with anything given him.

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Prayer with Pain

--Geronda (Elder), how do you pray about a certain matter?

--The main thing is to feel compassion. If one is not compassionate, he may sit for hours with the komboschoini (Prayer-rope), and his prayer will have no result whatsoever. If there is pain in his heart about what he is praying for, even with a single sigh he will have prayed from the heart. Many, who when asked to pray have no time, will sigh for the other's problem and that in itself is a prayer. I'm not saying prayer needn't be done, if there is no time, a sigh for the pain of another is a prayer from the heart; it equals hours of prayer.

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The Historical Background of the Vasilopita

The tradition of baking and cutting a special "pita" (which can mean a loaf of bread, a cake, or even a pie!) each year on January 1st is observed in honor of our Holy Father Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia--hence its name Vasilopita. This tradition is observed in both parish churches and in the homes of the Orthodox Christian faithful. What is the meaning of this tradition and how did it begin? For centuries upon centuries parents, grandparents and godparents have related the following story to Orthodox children about Saint Basil and the Vasilopita.

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The Quality of Prayer Counts

--Geronda (Elder), when we have a serious request, should our prayer be accompanied by fasting?

--That goes without saying; it's a must. Fasting and ascetic struggle are prerequisites for prayer. But for prayer to be proper and effective one must have compassion for others. For it is a rule of many Christians in our time not to want to have any worries. Even retired people who sit around all day don't want to approach an abandoned child, for this requires work and effort, which will disturb their serenity.

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Help Through Prayer

--Geronda (Elder), Saint James says, "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (Saint James 5:16). What is meant by "Availeth much in much in its working?"

--That it is also necessary for someone seeking the prayer of a righteous man to want to be helped, to be saved, and to make an effort too. In other words, someone who wants to benefit from the prayer of a righteous man must have a good disposition. Prayer from the heart is heard; but the recipient must also be receptive. Otherwise, the person who is praying must have the sanctity of Saint Paisios the Great to be able to bring the other person out of hell. [In the life of Saint Paisios the Great the following event is related.

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Prayer is a Powerful Weapon

"Much Prayer Is Needed"

In the past, in order to do something, a worldly person would think. If he were a spiritual person, he would think and pray. In our time, even "spiritual" people not only don't pray, they don't even think. In fact, this frequently involves serious matters, and all they do is practice on people. In all circumstances, before we act we should say, "Have I thought about this? Have I prayed about this?"

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