Monday, September 28, 2009

The Clothing of God

"...God adorned human nature in this way because He was going to clothe Himself in it. He was to assume it from the blood of the Virgin, transform it into something better, and set it on high above all principality and power..."
St. Gregory Palamas

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Patron Saint

The Monk Euphrosynos – was from one of the Palestinian monasteries, and he did his obedience working in the kitchen as a cook. Toiling away for the brethren, the Monk Euphrosynos did not absent himself from thought about God, but rather dwelt in prayer and fasting. He remembered always, that obedience – is the first duty of a monk, and therefore humbly he was obedient to the elder brethren. The patience of the saint was amazing: they often reproached him, but he made no complaint and unperturbedly endured every unpleasantness. The Monk Euphrosynos pleased the Lord by his inner virtue concealed from people, and the Lord Himself revealed to the monastic brethren the spiritual heights of their unassuming fellow-monk. One of the monastery presbyters in prayer asked the Lord to show him the blessings, prepared for the righteous in the age to come. The priest beheld in a dream, what is situated in paradise and he contemplated with fear and with joy its inexplicable beauty. He also espied there a monk of his monastery, – the cook Euphrosynos. Amazed at this encounter, the presbyter asked Euphrosynos, how he came to be there. The saint answered him, that he was in paradise through the great mercy of God. The priest again asked, whether Euphrosynos would be able to give him something from amongst the surrounding beauty. The Monk Euphrosynos suggested to the priest to take whatsoever he wished, and so the priest pointed to three luscious apples, growing in the paradise garden. The monk picked the three apples, wrapped them in a kerchief, and gave them to his companion. Having awakened in the early morning, the priest thought the vision a typical dream, but suddenly he noticed next to him the kerchief with the fruit of paradise wrapped in it, and emitting a wondrous fragrance. The priest, having found the Monk Euphrosynos in church, asked him under oath, where he was the night before. The saint answered, that he was there where also the priest was. Then the monk said, that the Lord, in fulfilling the prayer of the priest, had shown him paradise and had bestown the fruit of paradise through him, " the lowly and unworthy servant of God, Euphrosynos". At the finish of the morning the priest related everything to the monastery brethren, pointing out the spiritual loftiness of Euphrosynos in pleasing God, and he pointed to the fragrant paradaisical fruit. Deeply affected by what they heard, the monks went to the kitchen, in order to pay respect to the Monk Euphrosynos, but they did not find him there: fleeing human glory, the monk had left the monastery. The place where he concealed himself remained unknown, but the monks always remembered that their monastic brother the Monk Euphrosynos had come upon paradise, and that they in being saved, through the mercy of God would meet him there. The apples of paradise they reverently saved and distributed pieces of for blessing and for healing.

Bread and Wine - The Purity of the Sacrifice

Unpolluted, undefiled, a perfect lamb.

The first fruits of the wheat.

Modernity has desecrated the Holy Sacrament of communion.

The prosphora has been tainted with elements not of God's creation.

Where does the wheat come from? How has it been treated and grown? Was it grown to the glory of God? Are the ingredients pure and unadulterated? Is the salt pure and natural or is it altered by men who have become Gods unto themselves?

We ought no longer to embrace modernity and it's rebellious practices.

We need to return to the traditions of the ancients and reject the ways of this modern world.

The ingredients of the holy sacraments in some ways show us where our hearts are at. Is the bread pure? Is the wine pure? Where did it come from? Do we care? Do it matter? I should think so!

What kind of lamb did God require for a sacrifice? Was it to be taken from the flock of a foreign people or was it to be from one's own flock? Did God care if it was blemished or maimed or the least of the flock? Do we give God the best of our labors? Does he care?

The devil has cunningly entered into the Holy of Holies and he has done so in the most cunning of ways. He seeks to usurp God and take the place of God and through the spirits that inhabit the darkness of our modern world, he has literally entered into the very elements of the holy sacraments. Albeit God is greater and will overcome, never the less, man in collusion with Satan, albeit unconsciously has become a pawn of the evil one who has tainted the bread and wine with his polluted, dark and deathly principles.

We have in this act, this act which to many may seem innocuous and insignificant, a sign of the times. It is evidence of the near coming of the anti-Christ. It is evidence that he is near, so near that he has already entered into the Holy of Holies and is at this very present time desecrating the holy elements.

We are now in the midst of the end times, it is upon us at this very hour and it will be as God forewarned, a great time of falling away by the faithful, a time when the love of many will grow cold and lifeless. This hour is a time of great travail, suffering and sadness.

We must not lose heart for the Lord is near, nearer than He has ever been to returning for the final gathering in of His beloved flock. The closer we come to His most glorious return, the more intense will be the activity of the evil one, for his time is near end and like a cornered rat, he will now attack with a vengeance as we have never seen before in the history of the world.

Stand firm my beloved, says the Lord and do not lose heart. Gird yourselves with the loin belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shod your feet with the gospel of peace and place on your head the helmet of salvation. Take up your shield of faith and the sword of God's holy word. The greatest battle that will ever take place upon the face of the earth is about to begin and we can be assured that the victory belongs to Christ, though the battle be long and fierce, exhausting and bloody and even if we perish in the battle we can be assured of this one blessed promise, the dead shall rise in Christ and those who have done well will rise to be with the Lord, their King forever and those who have succumbed and given themselves over to the evil one will forever be with their king but not in glory.

Crush Or Be Crushed

"The heart cannot remain firm in purity, so as not to be defiled, if it will not be crushed by fasting. It is impossible also to preserve holiness without fasting, and the flesh will not submit to the spirit for spiritual activity, and prayer itself will not rise up and act because natural needs predominate. And the flesh will be compelled to become feverish. And from thoughts the heart is aroused and is defiled, and through this, grace departs, and the unclean spirits have boldness to rule over us as much as they wish." St. Paisius Velichkovsky "Field Flowers"