Archive

Posts Tagged ‘death’

Saint Cosmas Of Aitolos- Teachings

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

GetImageDetail.asp“Among the religious figures who have appeared among the Greeks during the past two centuries, none has been as universally acclaimed as Cosmas of Aitolos (1714-1779). In addition to being given the tile “Equal to the apostles,’ he is numbered among the “Teachers of the Nation”.

The following are the Apolytikion, Kontakion, and Megalynarion to St. Cosmas, and his feast day is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on August 24th.


APOLYTIKION

By teaching the Divine Faith, thou hast richly adorned the Church and become a zealous emulator of the Apostles; for having been lifted up by the wings of divine love, that hast spread far and wide the message of the Gospel. O glorious Cosmas, entreat God that He grants us His great mercy.


KONTAKION

Having led an irreproachable life on Athos, like Moses thou hast been deemed worthy of God’s manifestation; wherefore truly thou dost gladden the Church exceedingly by thy deeds and thy God-inspired words, O Father Cosmas, having contended for which, thou hast been adorned with a double crown.


MEGALYNARION

Rejoice thou emulator of the Apostles, teacher and luminary of the Church; rejoice thou divine cultivator of piety, associate of Martyrs and peer of Angels.



GOD

It is proper to begin our teaching with God, and when we finish it to thank God – not that I am worthy to mention and utter the name of God, but I am sure that God suffers me to do so through His great and infinite compassion.

God, the all-good and most merciful, my brethren, is one, and whoever says that there are many Gods is a devil.

He is triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; yet one nature, one glory, one kingdom, one God. He is all light, all joy, all compassion, all love. This All-holy Trinity we pious Orthodox Christians glorify and worship.

He is the true God, and all other so-called gods are demons. And it is not we along that believe, glorify, and worship the Holy Trinity, but angels, archangels, and all the heavenly hosts, as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea unceasingly praise in hymns and worship and glorify this All-holy Trinity.

Again, out of their love for the Holy Trinity men and women as numerous as the stars of the heavens and the grains of the sand of the sea spilt their blood, and as many renounced the world and went to the deserts and led a life of spiritual endeavor, and still as many lived in the world with temperance and virginity, fasting, prayer, almsgiving and other practices; and all went to Paradise and rejoice forever.


LOVE

If we want to fare well in this life and to go to Paradise, and to call our God love and father, we must have two loves: the love for God and the love for our neighbor.

It is natural for us to have these two loves, and contrary to nature not have them. Just as a swallow needs two wings in order to fly in the air, so we need these two loves, because without them we cannot be saved. Let us have love for God and for our fellow men. Then God comes and brings us joy and implants the eternal life in our hearts, and we fare well in this life and also go to Paradise, there to rejoice forever.

Fortunate is the man who has these two loves in his heart, that for God and that for his brethren. He surely has God; and whoever has God has every blessing and does not bear to commit sin. Again, wretched is the man who does not have these two loves. Surely he has the devil and evil, and always sins.

God, my brethren, asks us to have these two loves. As He Himself says in His Holy Gospel: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.” Through these two loves all the Saints of our Church, men and women, attained sainthood and won Paradise. Whoever has blessed love, firstly for God and secondly for his fellow Christian, becomes worthy of receiving the Holy Trinity in his heart. If you wish to be saved, seek no other thing here in this world as much as love.

Know my brethren that love has two characteristics, two gifts. One of them is to strengthen man in what is good and the other is to weaken him in what is evil. I have a loaf of bread to eat; you do not have. Love tells me: Do not eat it alone, give some to your brethren and you eat the rest. I have clothes; love tells me: Give one garment to your brother and you wear the other one. I open my mouth to accuse you, to tell you lies, to decieve you; but at once I remember love and it deadens my mouth, and does not allow me to tell you lies. I stretch out my hands to take what belongs to you, your money, all your possessions. Love does not allow me to take them.

Do you see, my brethren, what gifts love has? Those of you who earn your bread by means of your toil and sweat should rejoice, because that bread is blessed; and if you give a little of it as alms it is reckoned as much. But those who live by means of injustice and grasping should mourn, for what you thus acquire is cursed; and if you give alms out of these they do not benefit you at all, being fire that consumes you.

The Martyrs won Paradise through their blood; the Ascetics, through their ascetic life. Now you, my brethren, who have children, how will you win Paradise? By means of hospitality, by giving to your brothers who are poor, blind, or lame.


HUMILITY

The Christian needs two wings in order to soar upward and attain Paradise: humility and love. When the first order of angels fell from angelic glory and became demons, the other nine orders humbled themselves and worshipped the All-Holy Trinity, and remained in their place and rejoice forever. We, too, my brethren, must reflect what an evil thing pride is – that it cast down the dcvil from angelic glory and he will always burn in Hades – and that humility kept the angels in Heaven, and they rejoice perpetually in the glory of the Holy Trinity. Let us then, my brethren, aviod pride, because it is the first daughter of the devil, is a path that leads to Hades; and let us have humility, because it is angelic, is a path that leads to Paradise.


CONFESSION

If you want cure your soul, you need four things.

  1. The first is to forgive your enemies.
  2. The second is to confess thoroughly.
  3. The third is to blame yourself.
  4. The fourth is to resolve to sin no more.

If we wish to be saved, we must always blame ourselves and not attribute our wrong acts to others. And God, Who is most compassionate, will forgive us.


FASTING

We who are pious Christians must fast always, but easpecially on Wednesday, because the Lord was sold on that day, and on Friday, because He was crucified on that day. Similarly, it is our duty to fast during the Lent seasons, as the Holy Spirit illumined the holy Fathers of the Church to decree, in order to mortify the passions and humble the body. Moreover, if we limt the food we eat, life becomes easier for us. Fast according to your ability, pray according to your ability, give alms according to your ability, and always hold death before the eyes of your mind.


VIRGINITY

Just as we humans prefer gold to sliver, so the Lord indeed likes marriage, but likes virginity more, in order to show you that if you can preserve your viginity and become a monk, or if you are a woman a nun, you are fortunate and thrice blessed, you are free from worldly things, you are like an angel.

However, if you want to preserve your virginity, you must put as the first foundation the non possesion-of-property (Aktemonsyne) and must discipline your body with fasts, prayers, vigils, and hardships in order to humble the flesh. Also, you must flee from the world… There is no other way for the monk to be saved except by withdrawing far from the world.


WOMAN

God created woman equal with man, not inferior. My Christian, you must love your wife as your companion, not consider her as your slave, for she is a creature of God, just as you are. God was crucified for her as much as for you. You call God Father, she calls Him Father, too. Both of you have the same Faith, the same Baptism, the same Book of the Gospels, the same Holy Communion, the same Paradise to enjoy. God does not regard her as inferior to you.


KEEPING SUNDAY

Do not separate yourselves from Christ and from the Church. Do you hear the priest ringing the bells? Rise at once, wash yourselves, and go to church. Attend the Orthros (Matins) attentively and likewise the Divine Liturgy.

We should not work or do business on Sunday. The profit that you gain on Sunday is curse… Keep Sunday as a day dedicated to God.


THE JESUS PRAYER -ALSO KNOWN AS “THE PRAYER OF THE HEART”

This prayer should never be absent from you: Lord Jesus Christ, Son and Logos of the living God, through the Theotokos and all the Saints, have mercy upon me, Thy sinful and unworthy servant.” (This is the actual Jesus Prayer: “O LORD JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD, HAVE MERCY UPON ME, A SINNER.“) Always say this prayer both with your mouth and with your mind, day and night, wherever you may be, whether eating, walking, working, or sitting. Always meditate on it, as it benefits you a great deal., frees you here from every evil, delivers you there from eternal Hell, and renders you worthy of going to Paradise, our heavenly country.


MEDITATION ON DEATH

There is no better teacher than death. Have death before your minds: the time when you will leave this unreal world and will go to the other one, which is eternal.


LIFE AFTER DEATH

We who are pious Christians must henceforth not weep for the dead like the impious and the unbelievers, who do not hope in the resurrection. This world, my brethren, is like a prison. When must man rejoice? When he enters the prison or when he is being liberated from the prison? It seems to me, when enters the prison he must weep and be sad, and when he comes out of the prison he must rejoice. Therefore, my brethren, do not grieve for the dead, but if you love them do what you can for their souls; offer liturgies, memorial services, fasts, prayers, alms.


TEACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES

Heed all the thoughts of the Holy Gospels, because they are all diamonds, treasures, joy, delight, eternal life. The existence of many churches neither preserves nor strengthens our faith to the proper extent and in the proper manner, if those who believe in God are not enlightened by the Old and the New Testament. I have found the words and the commandments of Christ pure, holy, true, splendid, brighter than the sun; and whoever believes in Christ and calls Him God and lives in accordance with His teaching, contained in the Holy Gospels, is fortunate and thrice-blessed. The Holy Spirit illumined firstly the holy Prophets, and they wrote the Divine Scripture; seondly, He illumined the holy Apostles; and thirdly, He has illumined the holy Fathers, and they have explained the books of our Church, in order that we may know how to conduct ourselves. Our Faith has been made secure by wise and learned Saints, who both explained the Holy Scriptures precisely and have enlightened us through their divinely inspired discourses.


Source: Modern Orthodox Saints I, St. Cosmas Aitolos, by (Dr.) Constantine Cavarnos., INSTITUTE FOR BYZANTINE AND MODERN GREEK STUDIES., Belmont, Massachusetts., pp.81-94.

Advertisements

“Young man, I say to you, arise.”

October 18, 2009 1 comment

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.  Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.” And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Luke 7:11-17

The story of the Widow of Nain is one of the most powerful of the Gospel stories about Jesus. As he is about to enter a city called Nain Jesus meets some men carrying the corpse of a young man who has just died. He is told that he is the only son of a widow. Moved by the widow’s grief, Jesus raises the young man from the dead and restores him to his mother. The crowd standing round are terrified, but give glory to God.

There are three points to make about this story. nain

1) The first thing to note is the great compassion that Jesus shows by this and other miracles. Jesus does not need to show by miracles that he is the Messiah and the Son of God (though they do have this effect as well for those who have faith). He performs miracles because he feels sorry for people. The three occasions recorded in the Gospels when Jesus raises someone from the dead certainly show this. Jesus raises the young man at Nain from the dead because of his pity for the widow. He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead because he had compassion on her parents. He raised Lazarus from the dead because he was a very dear friend, and because he felt compassion for his two sisters, Martha and Mary.

It is difficult for us to realise just what effect Jesus’ action would have had on the widow of Nain. For a woman to be left with no man to support her in the agricultural communities of the Middle East in New Testament times was catastrophic. The woman in the story had lost both her husband and her only son, so that there was no one left to do the farm work. Her life would have been completely devastated. Not that the women of that time and place were weaklings. One of their jobs was to fetch water from the well, which often involved carrying huge pitchers of water considerable distances. But the back-breaking farm work, involving long hours in the fields, was definitely a man’s job. In any case, the widow could not have inherited the land. The loss of her only son would have left her dependent on the charity of more distant relatives and neighbours. So she was indeed greatly in need of Jesus’ compassion.

2) This story when combined with the two other Gospel stories about Jesus raising people from the dead illustrates Jesus’ absolute power over death. When he raised Jairus’ daughter she had only just died. She was still on her death bed. The son of the widow of Nain had been dead some time and was being carried to the grave. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days, and no doubt his body had already started to decompose. Yet Jesus raised him too! So however long a person has been dead Jesus can raise him. That is important for us, because besides physical death there is also spiritual death.  But, just as our Lord Jesus Christ can raise people to physical life however long they have been dead, so he can restore us to spiritual life however spiritually dead we may be. We have only to want to be restored. Jesus can save the worst of sinners – anyone who wants to be raised from spiritual death.

3) Jesus raised the young man because he had compassion on the widow, his mother. The wife of Jairus joins her tears to those of her husband. Lazarus is Jesus’ very dear friend, but he is especially moved by the grief of the sisters, Martha and Mary. We find women are also very much involved in stories about God raising people from the dead that are found outside the Gospels. (Jesus raises people from the dead because he is God. It is important to remember that it is always God who raises people from the dead. If there is a saint or a prophet involved, he is only the channel). In the Acts of the Apostles God raises Dorcas from the dead at the request of St Peter, who is moved by the grief of the group of widows. In the Old Testament God raises a widow’s son at the request of Elijah, who is moved by the mother’s tears. At the request of Elishah, God raised from the dead the son of the Shumamite woman who had asked Elishah to help her. These facts are important for us too. They remind us that women as well as men have a part to play in God’s scheme for salvation. In one of the prayers at the Sixth Hour we ask the Mother of God to intercede with Jesus for us, “for the prayer of a Mother availeth much to the goodwill of the Lord.”


Apart from this and our sympathy, we feel ourselves incapable of offe ring anything else to those who are mourning. The power of death has so outstripped our strength that we crawl around like insects in its shadow; and as we heap earth over a dead body, we feel that we are heaping earth over a part of ourselves in the deathly darkness of the grave. The Lord does not say “Weep not!” to the woman in order to show that we should not weep for the dead. He Himself wept for Lazarus (John 11:35); He wept in advance of many who would later suffer in the fall of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44); and lastly, He praised and blessed those who weep, “for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Nothing so calms and cleanses a man as tear. In the Orthodox methodology of salvation, tears are among the first means of cleansing the soul, heart and mind. Not only should we weep over the dead, but also over the living, and especially over ourselves, as the Lord recommended to the women of Jerusalem: “Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28). There is, though, a difference between tears and tears. The Apostle Paul commands the Thessalonians that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13), like the pagans and the godless, for they mourn their dead as utterly lost. Christians must mourn the dead – not as lost but as sinners, and their mourning must therefore be conjoined with prayer to God that He will forgive the sins of the departed and lead them, by His mercy, to the heavenly Kingdom. Because of his sins, a Christian must mourn and weep also for himself—and the more often the better; not as those who have no faith and hope, but, on the contrary, specifically because he has faith in the living God and hope in God’s mercy and in eternal life.

St. Nikolai Velimirović

Kontakion 2

As when seeing the widow weeping bitterly, O Lord, Thou wast moved with pity, and didst raise her son from the dead as he was being carried to burial, likewise have pity on me, O Lover of men, and raise my soul, deadened by sins, as I cry, Alleluia!

Akathist to our Sweetest Lord Jesus Christ

Categories: Biblical Studies, Homilies

The three friends

September 20, 2009 2 comments

(a parable from a church Saint)


A certain man had three friends. Two of these friends he loved very much. He would sacrifice everything for their friendship. He would stay up all night just to please them. He literally worshiped them. For the first friend he worked day and night. He had such great love for him that many a time he did not even take time to eat. He was also crazy about his second friend. When he opened his wallet one could see the photographs of this friend. When he met this friend he was jumping for joy. He loved to spend time with him. Along with these two friends he also had a third one. This friend he did not love very much. Now and then he would remember to visit him. Very seldom would he do something nice for him. His company was-almost always-the first two friends.

One day he received some bad news. He panicked. This matter cost him sleep. He would lie awake night after night from the agony. What caused all this? One night while sleeping he was awakened by a loud knock on his door. He got up and found a constable at the door serving him a summons. What is this? The man asked in disbelief. This is a piece of paper,” said the nighttime visitor, inviting you to attend a court hearing. You are a suspect.” “Me a suspect? What did I do?” He asked, full of fear. I do not know. All I know is that you are being accused of a great crime. I have no more information. Just sign the summons, I can’t wait any longer. I must visit quite a few others like you to bring them to court. So long and take care.

So the constable left the summons and walked back into the night. The suspected man was left behind, petrified. He broke out into a cold sweat. What would happen to him? A suspect! He must find some character witnesses immediately to help him prove his innocence and avoid being sentenced. But how could he find these people? “I have two good friend” he thought. “I love them so much. If they don’t help me now that I’m in trouble, when would they help me, thus proving their friendship? I must go find them at one.” So, first thing in the morning he decided to visit his two great friends.

After a little while he was knocking at the door of his first friend. He will so happy to see me he thought, while knocking. “My friend” he says “you know how much I cared for you all these years. You know how Much I sacrificed for you. You know how many nights I labored for you. So now I beg of you, this is the first time that I am asking you for a favor. In the name of our friendship, please come to the courtroom to tell the judge that I’m not guilty. Tell him I’m innocent. Please help me. Don’t you feel sorry for me? While saying these things, he was crying bitterly. His tears got worse when he saw that his friend was totally indifferent. “Listen to me” the friend said. “I realize that you loved me and did everything for me, but at this time I can’t come to court. I must go away on business. But, since I see that your clothes are in bad shape and full of holes, take this suit of clothes so you will at least be well dressed when you appear before the judge. “ A suit of clothes my friend?” said the suspected man. “I don’t need clothes. I want you. I want you to come personally to be my witness. Can’t you come? Don’t you remember all the time we had together, our great friendship…” His friend was as cold as ice. He proceeded to show him that he was no longer welcomed at his house and that the conversation was officially over. So the poor man leaves, only to run and find the second friend. He just knew that his friend would help him, and stand by him in this difficult time. He comes to the house of his second friend and knocks on the door. “Who is it?” his friend asked in a heavy voice. “It is your good friend. Open quickly. I have to tell you something very serious.” His friend opens the door. He is surprised at the condition of his visitor, and asks him, What happened to you? Why are you troubled? Why are you pale and crying? “Oh my friend, I’m in deep trouble. They are accusing me. Tomorrow I must be in court. I’m accused of a crime and if found guilty they will surely sentence me to death.” “What did you say? You are kidding! You are such a good person and they are accusing you.“No, it is not truth, I’m in danger. So I came to ask you to come along with me. You know how much love I’ve had for you over the years, so please come with me to testify on my behalf and prove my innocence. My other friend has deserted me. Don’t send me away empty handed. Please come…” “When do you want me to come?” “Tomorrow. “Oh, that is too bad, tomorrow I can’t, I”m very busy. The only thing that I can do is walk along with you until we get to the door of the courthouse. After that I have to leave. I can’t stay. I’m so sorry to see you in this shape, and I will be sad if you are found guilty. But I don’t know what to tell you, I just can’t come.” “I’m not looking for company to walk me to the courthouse, “said the poor man. “I’m looking for witnesses to support my case.” “I understand,” said his second friend, “but I simply can’t.”

So he decides to go. He was rather nervous and kept talking to himself. “I wonder how he will receive me? “ When he reached the home of his third friend, he knocked on the door half-heartedly. “Who is it?” a rather pleasant voice inquired from inside. “It is I,” answered the unexpected visitor in a trembling voice. “Open the door for me please. I’m in big trouble..” With much joy and politeness his friend answered the door. Welcome! Please come in. How are you? How is everything? You seem upset. What’s happening to you? Maybe I can help.” “My friend,” said the visitor with much embarrassment, “I’m ashamed to look at you. I know that I didn’t love you as much as my other two friends.” He went on to explain his plight.” Can you help me! I know that I am not worthy of your love and I would understand if you would say no. But…” “Nonsense!” his friend interrupted him. “Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid. We will face this thing together. I will not leave you, and I’m certain that I can convince them of your innocence. So don’t worry. Let’s go. You will see what I will say in court on your behalf…”

We can all imagine the feelings of the man in the parable. Where he least expected it he found understanding and love. His third friend come to his aid and was instrumental in proving his innocence. Even though this is not one of Jesus’ parables, nevertheless it is full of wisdom characteristic of the fullness of spirit possessed by our church saints.

So let us see what is the meaning behind the different people and details of this parable. The man of our story is everyman. You and I , all of us. We all have three friends. The one friend that people love and get tired for is money. They work hard to have a lot of money. Many times they don’t go to church on Sundays to make more money. They work overtime, even at night. They steal, lie, and cheat to make money fast. The second friend that people love a lot are relatives. Mothers, fathers, brothers, sister, uncles, and acquaintances. The third friend we will reveal a little later. Everyman will one day hear a knock at the door of his soul. An unearthly visitor will come knocking and calling to bring a notice. This visitor is death. None of us will be able to escape death. He will come calling one day, unexpectedly. Maybe when we are young, maybe when we get older. One thing is for certain. Sooner or later death will be calling us to appear in God’s court as defendants. Who will the first friend do? He was giving the man a suit of clothing. This friend, as we said earlier is wealth. No matter what you have, you only take you a suit of clothes to be buried in. The second friend? He walked the defendant to the court and then left. This friend is our relative. No matter how much our relatives love us and vice versa, they will only follow us to the cemetery. They will leave there and they will return to their everyday lives and soon forget us. Let’s look at the third friend. Who is he? The good deeds. The good deeds that we did while alive. They will travel with us to the other life and the will come to our rescue at the Judgment seat of God.

Let’s not let a day go by without giving the opportunity to the angel to record some good deed in our book of Life.

Source: here

Categories: Homilies