Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
PRAYER OF THE OPTINA ELDERS
[When you are about to take up your day's duties]
+In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Grant unto me, my Lord, that with peace of mind I may face all that this new day is to bring. Grant unto me Grace to surrender myself completely to Thy Holy Will. For every hour of this day instruct and prepare
me in all things. Whatsoever tidings I may receive during the day, do Thou teach me to accept tranquilly, in the firm conviction that all eventualities fulfill Thy Holy Will. Govern Thou my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say. When unforseen things occur, let me not forget that
all cometh from Thee. Teach me to behave sincerely and reasonably toward every member of my family, that I may bring them no confusion or sorrow. Bestow upon me, my Lord, strength to endure the fatigue of the day, and to bear my part in all its passing events. Guide Thou my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive and to love. Amen.
[Please note: We ought to turn in prayer to God whenever we intend to do anything or desire anything; we ought to ask for what we consider our need and what would be of benefit to us. But we must leave the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of our request to the will of God, with faith, trust and hope in His wisdom and goodness. We have the excellent example of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Gethsemane Who concluded His Divine prayer to the Father, "Yet not My will, but Thine be done" (St. Luke 22:42).]
ON DIVINE MIRACLES IN OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN FAITH
"Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them". (Acts 19:11-12)
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant...There are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God Who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles..." (1 Cor. 12:1-10)
"God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will..." (Hebrews 2:4).
"When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped t see some miracles done by Him". (St. Luke 23:6-8).
("Healing Power flows from Christ. That which Jesus touches or which touches Hi, is sanctified. The power to heal comes through the garment (St. Luke 8:44) of Jesus but originates within Him. Similarly, we use physical things in the Orthodox Church because in the context of faith and prayer, the power of Christ works through them. There is power in the paint or wood of an icon, or in the metal of a cross, or in oil or water, only if it is sanctified by Christ. Jesus taught that one thing sanctifies the gold." (St. Matthew 23:17). Therefore, to trustingly touch the border of His garment was to touch Him. Others may have touched Christ, but this woman's faith draws His power as well." (Orthodox Study Bible, p. 159).
Miracles may be defined as extraordinary events above the customary order of physical phenomena and beyond the explanation provided by the powers of nature alone. They are the results of the intervention of God for the purpose of enlightening, teaching or benefiting man. Miraculous events attested in the New Testament are and must be accepted as part of God's Incarnation for the purpose of saving His creature, man. A Christianity without miracles and above all without believing in the miraculous taking of the flesh on the part of the God-Logos could be no better nor worse than philosophical moral ethics that seek to raise man above his animal state. The best systems of this kind, as known, are part of the Greek heritage to the civilized world. However, as Saint Paul said, "If Christ had not been resurrected from the dead, our preaching is empty and our hope in vain." It should be noted that miracles in the New Testament have always been performed for the benefit of man, not for the purpose of proving something.
Miracles began to be questioned with the rise of modern science and its tendency to regard the world in which we live as a closed system, subject to the laws of nature and excluding all interference on the part of a higher power. As a consequence to that, a number of thinkers have tried to expound Christianity by rationalistic means. They contended that miracles in the Bible and in the history of the Church were within the sphere of natural explanation properly, but were misrepresented by credulous contemporaries.
On the other hand, and in support of the traditional belief, it is argued that miracles are possible if God be held to be the Supreme First Cause responsible for, but not subject to the laws of nature. Thus, there is no reason to reject that He should, from time to time, act directly and without the intervention of secondary causes. Furthermore, the latest developments in the field of science, moving further and further away from a fast and hard determinism, may be the portent of an approaching reconciliation between the Christian teaching and modern scientific research. (source: Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy by Fr. Nicon D. Patrinacos)
A Contemporary Miracle: Father Georges Florovsky and the Wild Child
The following story was told by Father Stephanos Anagnostopoulos in a recent talk.
Let us behold a contemporary miracle. A priest, Fr. Nicholas, whose last name is not told, said the following about Fr. Georges Florovsky, the great Russian theologian and teacher at Harvard University in the United States of blessed memory.
He was indeed a great Orthodox theologian. He was noteworthy and a miracle-worker, as well as a man of great sacrifice. He also was educated in spiritual psychology as well the psychological study of the effects of alcohol and drugs. He studied these and other subjects with much love and patience.
"In order to understand the greatness of this man", said Fr. Nicholas as to a doctor, "I will tell you a story about him of which I was a witness of a miraculous healing. A woman brought her eighteen year old child, who was suffering from insanity to Father Georges. His situation was extremely difficult and untreatable. Fr. Georges asked to receive the young man in his custody. The young man was taken by Fr. Georges to a place of retreat of many acres of land. They both entered the house there-the wild child and Fr. Georges-and Fr. Georges shut the heavy door, locked it, while putting the key in his pocket. After three days the child was returned to his parents healed and healthy-minded. This child became educated and is still healthy in fact now, as of two years ago in 2008, he is an Orthodox bishop in the United States.
When I asked 'Fr. Georges, how did this happen?' He answered me saying: 'I took the child and told him 'My child, I will sit on this log. The entire property is yours. Do whatever he wanted. He destroyed the refrigerator, the library, the flowers, the chairs, the tables, everything. When he calmed down, we talked. As long as he wanted. I was sitting on this log and waited, without being afraid of what was going on around me. I did not get up from there for three days, nor did I eat or drink water. After three days the child serenely kissed my hand, and raised me up to walk since I was as if dead. We opened the door and I presented him to his parents healed and healthy-minded. This is as we read in the Gospel reading from this past Sunday about the demon possessed man who roamed among the tombs, who after his exorcism the demons left and entered the swine who drowned in the lake, and was later seen to be healed and healthy-minded.'
'But Fr. Georges, in those three days how did you take care of your natural needs? You are a man! Fr. Georges responded: "I did it all on myself. I didn't move at all. I wanted to offer a sacrifice for this child to God-my patience and this basic human need of life. I am nobody. God granted healing to the man.'
Please note: Not enough is said about miracles today even among Orthodox Christians or even clergy. I, personally, have witnessed many miracles both in my own life and as a priest of the Church for 44 years. Our Faith is a living faith for we believe in the living God, a God who loves and heals those who believe in Him. Do not ever stop believing in miracles!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God