Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A Blind Poet Who Sees Her Soul

Gerondissa (Greek for Abbess) Xeni, was born in 1867, and reposed in the Lord 1923. Mother Xeni, was chosen to become a Abbess of St. Nectarios (spelled also: St.Nektarios) newly-founded Monastery in Aegina for nuns. This beloved handmaiden of our Lord was blind from the age of 9 months, and although physically blind, she was not spiritually blind. She lived under the spiritual guidance of St. Nectarios, and sincerely developed great Christian virtue, discernment and love. Even before the holy Saint Nectarios officially named her to preside over the Community of nuns in Aegina all the girls and women considered her to be their leader due to her piety, compassion and the great grace which dwelt in her sweet soul. This holy, pure, and chosen woman, though she fully realized the scope of her blessedness, did not "consider salvation a thing to be grasped" (Phil.3:13).

During the life of Gerondissa Xeni, she wrote her poetry, which is now becomming more and more well known. We truly discover the secret of her blessed familiarity and closeness both to the Saint, and to our God in Trinity: humility. Gerondissa Xeni poetry is spiritually remarkable, and full of love for God! Her poetry serves to help us, her readers, to be able to reflect on our own path to salvation.

The poetry of Gerondissa Xeni, here translated from the original Greek.

To God

A soul, of lamentations worthy, sorrows and is sighing,

and with a loud and fervent voice, the name of God is crying,

and saying, my God save me now, my God, have mercy on me,

O God, You've seen my darkness now, so shed Your light upon me,

my God, don't turn away from me, but quickly hear my pleading,

enlighten my soul's eyes, O God, with spiritual leading;

because they have been blinded from the sins within my depths.

O wretched self, I cannot see; my God, I lose my steps.

Miserable me, I cannot see, my God, where I am going,

or where I stand, or that I am a stranger, passed my knowing.

Many clouds and mists my soul in darkness shroud and cover,

and without measure I embitter You, my sweetest Savior.

O wretch, within I feel upheaval, mourning pierced my side,

for Your All-Holy Spirit, Lord, to me must be denied;

my soul must weep eternally her poverty of grace,

and without ceasing to lament in tears that woeful place.

I must avenge myself for all the pain sin makes me suffer,

and with the rivers of my tears, my deep repentance offer;

the tender earth to which I will return, with weeping drench,

to cleanse and flood away the traces of my sins' foul stench.

I am no longer worthy, Lord, to hope in Your compassion,

I'm worthy only of hell-fire, and suffering damnation.

But you, my refuge is in You, my God and my Salvation...

Confession of the Blind Woman

People, hear and pity me, for this, my situation,

and pray to God for me, to give my wretched soul salvation.

Believe me, all of you, my brethren, truly I'll explain,

in me is found abundantly the works I now will name.

If you would like to know which virtues I have called my own,

I'll tell you: naked is my soul of good in every form.

Utterly devoid of virtue, sentenced to be damned,

and by every purity most utterly abandoned.

Poverty past bounds is mine, and wounds and ill diseases,

and being lost forever in the folds of death's deep creases.

Severe insentitivity and stupor overcome me,

anger, pride, hard-heartedness and evil have undone me.

To virtue I am cold as ice, but warm to wickedness,

always ready for laughter's lure and for talkativeness.

Instead of being compunctionate I'm totally unfeeling,

instead of weeping constantly, I laugh, the wretched worldling!

But there is something yet, that hides so perfectly these evils.

How long will I so fool the world, though I am like the devils,

with my false piety, fake virtue and hypocrisy?

When the world regards me highly, I rejoice and boast,

but when they criticise me, even kindly, I am sad, and mope.

Whomever of you knows me, I exhort you to feel piety,

and when reminded of me, weep for my iniguity.

Beg our God that someday He enlightenment will send me;

and by your prayers, my brethren, I hope that He will save me,

and from my somber wickedness and evil, He will free me.

Copied from the website of, "Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church" of Boise, Idaho.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Notable Poetry From An Orthodox Perspective

St. John was a parish priest in Kronstadt, Russia, and during his pastoral life he wrote a book called "My Life In Christ". This famous spiritually rewarding book is not only read by bishops, and priest, as well as the monastics, but also by laymen who are seeking to find their lives in Christ our Lord.

A poem written by St. John of Kronstadt:

The Heart Can Change Several

Times In One Moment

The heart can change several times in one moment
-to good or evil,

to faith or unbelief,

to simplicity or cunning,

to love or hatred,

to benevolence or envy,

to generosity or avarice,

O, what inconstancy!

O, how many dangers!

O, how sober and watchful we must be!

Copied from the website of, "Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church" of Boise, Idaho.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Saint Chrysostom's Ancient Liturgy

No matter what Orthodox Church you enter anywhere in the world, the liturgy is going to be the same. It is ancient, rich, full of symbolism, beautiful and unchangeable and has been consistently the same for fifteen hundred years! 

Orthodox Christians embrace one hope, one faith and one Lord, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Christ in His fullness cannot be experienced anywhere in the world except for within the One, Holy, Apostolic, Orthodox Church.

The One True Church, the only place where one can experience the actual presence of Christ in the Holy Mysteries of the cup and bread. We eat His body and drink His blood and He cleanses us from all our sins and we experience these life giving mysteries every time we partake of the blessed life giving mysteries of our Lord.

No where but in the Orthodox Church will you be able to experience the fullness of Jesus Christ. The reality of the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here you will find life, abundant life, with a fullness that can be had no where else on the face of the earth.

Satan's one main purpose is to keep you, who are created in the image of God from tasting of the fullness of Christ as found within the Orthodox Church. He makes you to think that what you already have is the fullness of the faith and that there could be nothing more to be had in this life. He hinders you from experiencing the healing power of the Holy Spirit. He deludes you into thinking the fullness of Christ cannot be realized in the here and now. He deceives you through masterful and cunning distractions, distortions, delusions. 

If you are reading this, then I am speaking to you, addressing your life condition and in doing so, I am urging you to reconsider where you have invested your time, your hope, your faith and your efforts. Is what you know, truly fulfilling? Does it match up with what you read in your bible? Do you ever have nagging thoughts that what you are experiencing may somehow be devoid of the Holy Spirit of God? 

Satan allows the Protestant and Romanist, a glimmer of light as he keeps the masses in the darkness. In doing so, he makes you to think that what little light you have is somehow the fullness of what God has to offer! What a pity, what a tragedy, what a sad scenario, to think that when all of life is over, as you come into the fullness of God's glorious presence, you will at that very moment be overwhelmingly remorseful for what you could have had, if only you had exercised the boldness to have freed yourself from the constraints and comforts of your religiousocity. 

It is not to late to enter into the fullness of the joy of the Lord. Now is the day of salvation, now is the day of repentance, now is the day of the Lord. You are invited, and God, in the fullness of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is ready to welcome you with mercy, grace and healing as you have never known in all of your life. The holy angels will assist you and protect you as you call out to Him now, seeking Him with all your heart, your soul, your mind and your strength.

But, calling out to God is only the first step in the pilgrims journey. Christ manifests Himself to the world through the Orthodox Church and the Orthodox Church is the door through which you must enter in order to begin to experience the fullness of a meaningful, full and rich relationship with the Triune God. 

If you ready for the next step, seek out an Orthodox Church in your community and attend.

"Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:14

“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Luke 13:24

"...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."

Because Orthodoxy is not individualistic, rather than the arrogance that goes with that individualism, in Orthodoxy we are taught to humbly listen to the teachings of the Fathers of the Church. We are taught not to think ourselves more holy or clever than the Fathers of the Church who have clearly shown themselves to be doers of the Word, and men of holiness -- and so when we read the Bible, we read it in accordance with the testimony of the Church rather than in the vanity of our individualistic minds.

As I said earlier, this is not a false humility, but is simply a realistic assessment of things. When there are 23,000 denominations that all claim to believe the Bible, but which cannot agree on what it is that the Bible says -- it is humility that is realistic, and arrogance that is fanciful. Obviously they cannot all be right, and so humility with regard to one's own interpretations of the Scriptures is the only reasonable approach to the subject.

This is not to say that all Orthodox Christians are truly humble, or that all Protestants are arrogant themselves and lack humility. I have known many Protestants who were themselves very humble, and I know that I myself am often very prideful. But having operated in both ways of thought, I can say experientially that the Orthodox approach to theology and spirituality is the path of humility and repentance.

Click on title to read more: Section III - Humility/Repentance