Beloved brothers and sisters,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
A PRAYER OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
Lord, our God, You have given Your peace to mankind; And the gift of the All-Holy Spirit You have sent to Your Disciples and Apostles, Opening their lips with fiery tongues by Your power. Open also the lips of us sinners And teach us how and for what we should pray. Lord, govern our life For You are the calm harbor for those who are storm-tossed. And make known to us the way we should go. Renew a right spirit within us, And establish our spiritual instability With Your governing Spirit. Each day, may we be guided brightly by Your Good Spirit Toward what is beneficial for us, Being empowered to observe Your Commandments, Which leads us to seek the salvation accomplished by You for mankind, And not to be deceived by the corrupting pleasures of this world. Strengthen us, Lord, to desire rather the delight of future blessings, For You are truly Blessed and praised among your Saints and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
MELANCHOLY, SADNESS, ANXIETY
by Geronda [Elder] Porphyrios
The crucial thing is to enter the Church-to unite with our fellow beings, with everyone's joys and sorrows, to feel them as our own, to pray for all, to ache for their salvation, to forget about ourselves, to do everything for others, like Christ did for us. In the Church we become one with every sorrowful, aching and sinful person. Nobody should want to be saved alone, without the salvation of others. It is wrong for one to pray for himself to be saved. We must love others and pray that no one be lost; that everyone enters the Church. This is what matters. And it's with this desire that one should leave the world to go to the monastery desert.
In the Church, which has the Mysteries that save, there is no desperation. We may be extremely sinful. However, we confess, the priest reads the prayer over us and so we are forgiven and we move towards immortality, without any anxiety, without any fear.
Whoever lives in Christ becomes one with Him, with His Church. He lives something crazy! This life is different to human life. It's joy, light, gladness, an uplifting. This is the Church's life, the Gospel's life, God's Kingdom. "The Kingdom of God is within you" (St. Luke 17:21). Christ comes in us and we are in Him. And just like a piece of iron placed in fire becomes fire and light; outside the fire, again it turns to dark iron, darkness.
The ones blaming the Church for its representatives' mistakes, aiming supposedly at helping in its correction, are greatly mistaken. They don't love the Church nor Christ to be sure. We love the Church; when in prayer we embrace every part of it and we do as Christ does. We sacrifice ourselves, remain alert, do everything, just like Him, the One "Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten" (1 Peter 2:23).
We need to pay attention to the basic part too. We need to live the Mysteries (Sacraments), especially the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Communion. It's in these that Orthodoxy is found. Christ is offered to the Church through to the Church through the Mysteries and primarily through Holy Communion.
For many, however, our faith is a struggle, agony and anxiety. For this reason many "religious" people are considered unhappy, because others see their bad state. Indeed, if one is unable to see the depth of the faith and does not live it, the faith ends up a sickness and a terrible one. So terrible, that one loses control over his actions, becomes weak-willed and powerless, is an agony and under stress and behaves under the influence of an evil spirit (meaning demonic energy). He does prostrations, cries, shouts, is supposedly humble, and all this humility is a satanic act. For some of these people the faith is like a type of hell. In church they do prostrations, make the sign of the Cross, they say "we are sinners, unworthy", and as soon as they get out, start blaspheming all things holy when someone annoys them just a little. It is obvious that there is a demon in the middle.
In reality, Christianity transforms a person and heals him. The most important prerequisite, however, for someone to perceive and distinguish truth is humility. Egoism darkens one's mind, confuses him, leads him into deception, into heresy. It is very important for one to comprehend the truth.
All the confused are going to the heretical groups-confused children of confused parents.
Often, neither toil, nor repentance, nor the sign of the Cross attract grace. There are secrets. The most important one is to avoid forms and go to the substance. Everything that happens must happen with love.
When you don't live with Christ, you live in melancholy, in sadness, in stress, in grief. You don't live correctly. So then many anomalies appear also in the body. The body gets affected, the endocrinal glands, the liver, the spleen, the pancreas, the stomach. You are told: "In order to be healthy, you must have some milk in the morning, an egg, butter and couple of rusks". And yet, if you live correctly, if you love Christ, you are just fine with an apple and an orange. The greatest of all medicine is to offer oneself in devotion to Christ. Everything gets healed. Everything functions properly. God's love transforms all, it alters, it sanctifies, it corrects, it changes, it modifies everything.
Love for Christ is unlike anything else. It doesn't end, you can't have enough of it. It transmits life, gives strength, grants health, it keeps giving…and the more it gives, the more one wishes to fall in love. While human love may wear one out, drive him crazy. When we love Christ, all other loves recede. Other loves have a saturation point...Love for Christ doesn't have one. Carnal love has a saturation point. Jealousy, complaining or even murder may follow. It may convert to hate. Love for Christ does not deteriorate. Worldly love can be maintained for a little while and then it slowly fades, whereas Divine Love keeps growing and deepening. Any other love may bring a person to despair. Yet Divine Love raises us to God's domain, gives us serenity, joy, completion. Other pleasures tire while this one you can't have enough of. It's an insatiable pleasure, that one never gets tired of. It's the utmost of goods.
When you love Christ, despite all your weakness and their conscious acknowledgment, you still have the certainty that you have overcome death, because you reside in the communion of Christ's love.
We need to feel Christ as our friend. He confirms this Himself when He says: "You are my friends..." (St. John 15:14). We need to look at Him and approach Him as a friend. Do we fall? Do we sin? We should run to Him with feelings of familiarity, in love and trust; not in fear of punishment but in courage granted by the sense of friendship. And say to Him: "Lord, I did it, I fell, forgive me". But at the same times we need to feel He loves us, and tenderly accepts us with love and forgives us. We need not be separated by sin from Christ. When we believe that He loves us and we love Him, we will not feel estranged and divided, even when we sin. We have secured His love and no matter how we may behave, He loves us…
Divine Grace teaches us our duty. To attract it, we need love, yearning. God's grace needs Divine Love. Love is enough to get us in the right 'shape' for prayer. Christ will by Himself pore over our heart, as long as He can find some things that please Him: good intention, humility and love. Without these we cannot say, "Lord Christ have mercy on me."
Even the smallest grumbling against your neighbor (your fellow man) negatively affects your soul and you are unable to pray. When the Holy Spirit finds the soul in this state, it does not dare approach.
We need to ask that God's Will is done; this is the most beneficial, the safest for us and for those we pray for. Christ will grant us everything abundantly. When there is even just a little egoism, nothing happens.
When God won't give us what we persistently ask for, He has His reason. God has His secrets too.
If you aren't obedient (to a spiritual father) and have no humility, the prayer (that is, Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me) won't effect and there is even the fear of delusion.
Let not the prayer (Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me) become tedious work. Pressure may bring about a reaction internally, may do harm. Many people have gotten sick through the prayer because they pressed themselves. Certainly, you can do it, but when it becomes tedious work, it's not healthy. It's not necessary to particularly focus to say the prayer. You don't need to put effort into it when you have divine love. Wherever you are, on a stool, on a chair, in a car, anywhere, in the street, at school, in the office, at work you can say the prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me", softly, without pressure, without strain.
A person of Christ makes prayer out of everything. He turns difficulty and sorrow into a prayer. Whatever happens to him, he immediately says: "Lord Jesus Christ..." Prayer benefits in all, even the simplest things. For example, do you suffer insomnia; do not think of sleep. Get up, go outside, come back into the room, fall back into your bed as if for the first time, without thinking if you will sleep or not. Concentrate, say the doxology and then three times "Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me" and in this way you will fall asleep.
Everything is inside us, instincts and all, and are asking for fulfillment. If we don't fulfill them they will take revenge, unless we redirect them elsewhere, towards the higher, towards God.
Freedom cannot be won, if we do not free ourselves internally from confusion and the passions.
This is what our Church is, this is our joy, this is everything for us. And this is what man today is looking for. And he takes poison and drugs so that he can enter joyous worlds, but fake joy. He feels something at that particular moment but the next day he feels torn. One thing scrapes him, eats him up, smashes him down, burns him. While the other, that is being given to Christ, enlivens him, gives him joy, makes him enjoy life, feel strong, magnificent.
The ability to sanctify your soul is a great art. One can become holy anywhere. Even in Omonia (the main square in Athens) one can be sanctified, if he wants. You can become Saints at work, no matter what it is-in calmness, patience, and love. Each day make a new beginning, a new mood, enthusiastically and with love, prayer and silence-not with stress and a heavy heart.
Work vigilantly, simply, gently, without anxiety, joyfully and gladly, in a good mood. Then Divine Grace comes.
There is no need in trying hard and straining yourselves. All your effort should be focused on gazing at the Light, attaining the Light. In this way, instead of turning to grief which is not of God's Spirit, you should turn yourselves to praising God.
Grief shows that we don't trust our life to Christ.
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God