We must not ask God for charismatic gifts but for repentance. The one who seek repentance will find both. The one who seek charismata will find neither. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite In this photo, Elder Gregory from the Cell of St. John the Theologian, one of the closest disciples of St. Paisios the Athonite, blesses the congregation during the Divine Liturgy on the feastday of St Paisios. In the Katholikon Church of Vatopaidi Monastery, 2016.
Christians, always rejoice, for evil, death, sin, the devil and hell have been conquered by Christ. But when all of this is conquered, is there anyone in the world who can bring our joy to naught? You are the lord of this eternal rejoicing as long as you do not give in to sin. Joy burns in our hearts from His truth, love, resurrection, and from the Church and His saints. Joy burns in our hearts all because of sufferings for Him, mockings for Him, and death for Him, insofar as these sufferings write our names in heaven. There is no true joy on earth without the victory over death, but the victory over death does not exist without the Resurrection, and the Resurrection does not exist without Christ. The risen God-Man Christ, the founder of the Church, constantly pours out this joy into the hearts of His followers through the Holy Mysteries and good deeds. Our faith is fulfilled in this eternal joy, insofar as the joy of faith in Christ is the only true joy for human nature. Based on St. Justin Popovich In this photo, the Elder Ephraim is incensing in the middle of the crowd at Easter. Vatopaidi, 2015.
The greatest pain for any man is to lose his spiritual father. When the loss occurs unwillingly, then we trust that the Lord will protect both the disciple and the spiritual father from all harm. Here we see Elder Ephraim, the abbot of Vatopaidi, allowing himself to be arrested as he peacefully approached the awaiting policemen at the main entrance of the monastery, just before Christmas in 2011. He was sent to the infamous Korydallos Prison, but was freed three months later as a result of the public outcry over the grave injustice.
If the man doesn't cope with his own sins, devil will make him cope with other's. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite
Help in finding a good spouse. Note: This text was written for women, but can equally be applied by men. First of all, pray about it. Our Lord and His holy Mother are the primary source of aid for such matters. Then ask yourself, can I see him as the father of my children? You should find that this narrows it down to perhaps one or two. Now, imagine him as an old man with a wrinkled face and stooped over. Would you want to be at this man’s side? If so, then indeed there something of God’s hand in this relationship. Next, observe him around girls or women with whom he is not interested in having a relationship, like a sister or feeble or old women. How does he behave around them? Here you will see his true character. Finally, make sure he is someone who is fighting to overcome his passions and to correct his defects, no matter how large or small they may be. Make sure he is someone who is a true Christian. Based on St. John Chrysostom, St. Paisios the Athonite, Father Dumitru Staniloae
A sad man is a man with the lights turned off. So, let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Based on father Arsenie Boca, Colossians 4:6 In this photo a friendly and spiritual chat between a monk from Vatopaidi and an engineer.
A disciple asked an elder, “Elder, why are you happy all day long?” The elder replied, “Because all night long I weep for my sins before God.” In the photo, Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi
The Creator and Ruler of the world called Himself meek and humble of heart. Therefore, to be a true Ruler of this world we must also be humble and meek in our hearts, with a deep respect for our neighbor and for all of creation. This photo shows the small port (arsanas) of Zographou Monastery.
He who has become aware of his sins has controlled his tongue, but a talkative person has not yet got to know himself as he should. The friend of silence draws near to God, and by secretly conversing with Him, is enlightened by God. The silence of Jesus put Pilate to shame, and by a man’s stillness vainglory is vanquished. Based on St. John of the Ladder
I have watched farmers sowing the same type of seed, and yet each one had different ideas of what he was doing. One was planning to pay off his debts. Another was hoping to get rich. Another wanted to be able to bring gifts to honor the Lord. Another was hoping to earn praise for his work from the passers-by in life. Someone else wanted to irritate a jealous neighbor, while there was yet another who did not want to be reproached by men for laziness. And as for the seeds thrown into the earth, their names are fasting, keeping vigil, almsgiving, service, and suchlike. So let our brethren in the Lord keep a careful eye on their motives. Based on St. John of the Ladder In the photo fathers are harvesting medicinal herbs (marigolds - calendula). In background, two chapels near of Vatopaidi.
Pride is the mother of all the passions and sins. If humility is characterised as the queen of the virtues, pride is the queen of passions. Pride is the greatest illness of the soul; the worst part being that one who suffers from this passion finds great difficulty in discerning it within. The principal therapy of pride is our own condecension, in other words constantly lowering ourselves, placing ourselves under our brother in every situation. In this photo, a pilgrim wanted to see what's happening at the procession of Blessing the Waters at Theophany, Vatopaidi 2015. He was (almost) the only one which succeeded to see from that area.
Rule #1 of programming: If a program works perfectly, the pleasure goes to users. If something is wrong, the programmer is to blame. This leads us to think about God who gives in the end justice for all. So, do not despair. In this photo, one of the chefs preparing the food for the Vatopaidi's refectory.
The sickness of human nature is the failure to reach personal perfection. The diagnosis concerns every person, independent whether he is Christian or not. Orthodoxy is not bounded within the narrow boundaries of religion that is only interested in her followers, but like God, is universal. Because of its human-divine nature, Christianity must remain eternally unchanging – but not frozen in letters – in no way being dependent on or guided by the spirit of each age. Instead, Christianity is meant to govern and direct the spirit of the age for anyone who follows its teachings, but not in a tyrannical manner. Based on St Theophan the Recluse, Protopresbyter George Metallinos (University of Athens) In this photo the Abbot Ephraim is pouring wine in the Holy Chalice at the beginning of Divine Leiturgy of St. Ap. James, the "brother" of Christ. Being the oldest complete Leiturgy still in use, it is held in the middle of the church, outside of the Holy Altar.
How to overcome the war against yourself When someone wages war against you, take example of Crist's crucifixion. Don't fight fire with fire. It makes you look ridiculous. Instead make a little path in order to let the light of Christ's example and His teaching enter and then the darkness will go away by itself. One needs faith, courage and patience in order to accomplish this. But without a cross to bare, there is no resurrection. Based on St Porfyrios of Kavsokalivia In this photo is depicted the Metropolitan Amphilohios of Adrianoupoleos raising the Cross with his hands at the Divine Liturgy. Vatopaidi, the feast of the Holy Founders.
This Nativity night bestowed peace on the whole world; So let no one threaten; This is the night of the Most Gentle One – Let no one be cruel; This is the night of the Humble One – Let no one be proud. Now is the day of joy – Let us not revenge; Now is the day of Good Will – Let us not be mean. In this Day of Peace – Let us not be conquered by anger. Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake; So, rich one, invite the poor to your table. Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask; So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us. This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers; Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness. Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity, In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of divinity. - St. Isaac Syrian, Nativity Sermon
The main duty of the spiritual man is to keep his mind clean from intrusive thoughts. This is necessary because devil ceaselessly seeks the mental accord with his prey. Consent of just one thought is enough pretext for him to obtain the necessary power to mentally battle someone. And any mistake which we make in actually has before it a mistake in the world of our thoughts.
The first stage of tranquility consists of silencing the lips when the heart is in turbulence. The second consists of silencing the mind when the soul is still troubled. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.
God's creation has a natural tendancy to turn away from sinful distortion in an effort to eradicate the evil. This is why many times animals instinctivly attack when they sense impurity within man. Contrary, when in the presence of a pure soul, nature is often calm, helpful and tame towards its symbiotic counterpart. In this photo, the beekeeper monk is depicted harversting the fruits of the monastery's beehives without a second thought for bodily protection.
The image of the polite man is admirable when you see him because mirrored within this icon is the beauty of the divine icon. In this photo one of the gardeners from Vatopaidi is shown giving a flower.
Happy is the man in whom there is love for God, for he bears God within himself. The one in whom there is love is with God, above all things. Whoever has love in himself does not fear. He never gets angry with anyone, nor does he exalt himself above anyone else. Whoever has love fulfills the will of God. In this photo a monk from Vatopaidi voices the ancient Easter greeting with 'Christ is risen!' to a child from Romania dressed in a traditional ethnic costume.
Do not rebuke one who stopped sinning and has started repenting. If you say that you are doing this for God's sake, first unearth your past sins, and then proceed to correct your brother. To kill a man is easy. To make enliven is much harder.
According to the degree of which a man suffers undeserved shame from another in the name of Christ's truth, he will be rewarded thousands of times over and will be mysteriously glorified by countless crowds of men. True love is tried and tested through man's controversies. This photo depicts the end of a "photo session" at the Skete of St Andrew (Karyes) requested by the father Job (on the left, in wheelchair) from the Abbot Ephraim (right) who was present at the skete's main feast of St. Andrew.
If you cover a transgression, you seek love; but if you spread it about, you separate yourself from your friends. It’s a great advantage to understand that true spiritual friends in Christ differ from those who praise us, even if they mean well. For those who want to know more: we’re all brethren - our friends are the saints and angels in Heaven. Based on Proverbs 17:9, St. Photios the Great
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. One of the Vatopaidi fathers during the worship service.
There are things which one cannot explain but can only live. Every spiritual experience is an ultimate mistery. Failure is not to fall; Failure is to stay down and not get up again.
Pride and envy are the greatest of evils which threw even angles from the Heavens to Hell. Hence, humility and love are the means which bring us from our inner hell to the Heavens. In order for man to experience his personal resurrection, God had to become man and die through the cross; otherwise no one would believe that paradise came only through the pain of the cross. This is the light which we all seek, but no one can find alone.
I will sing unto the Lord throughout my life, I will chant to my God for as long as I exist. May my words be sweet unto Him, and I will rejoice in the Lord. Truly remarkable is this mystery of earthly worhsip when contemplated with the eternal nature of mankind.
Prayer is the core of spiritual life; it is communication with God or, better yet, life with God. Hence prayer is man's way to directly communicate with God, stemming from the human need for completeness. There was a time when man sought God in external things; but through grace the divine encounter with God occurs within the human being. Finding God in himself, man finds himself and succeeds to be God-like, acquiring the mindfulness of the emperor of creation. A candid shot from Divine Liturgy in the Vatopaidi's main church. A deacon from a central part of Africa while saying the prayers.
Contrast In order to abide in the love of God it is essential for anger and hate to attain their maximum intensity and directed against the sin that lives in me, against the evil active in me in me, not in my brother. In this photo a priest from Congo during the annual procession of St. Elias which journeys around the whole monastery.
It is impossible to know truth without God allowing us to experience trials. Those who don’t wish to endure these trials for the sake of truth will endure greater hardships from the sickness of their soul. Based on St. Isaac the Syrian, Abba Mark This photo shows Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Rodostolos (centre) together with a young student from the Athonite Academy (left) surrounded by fathers from Vatopaidi.
Blessed is he who mortifies his will to the very end and who leaves the care of himself to his elder in the name of the Lord. He will be placed at the right hand of he who was Crucified. He who refuses to accept criticism, just or not, renounces his own salvation, while he who accepts it, as hard as it it may be, will soon have his sins forgiven. A monk prepares himself for a life of struggle, pain and toil in the name of Love in Jesus Christ. He walks forward to his own tonsure knowing full well that he is embracing the life of the cross and discovers the endless joy of Life in He that was Crufied.
You must see the man with the utmost respect but also with the deepest compassion. You must see him with trust but also with prudence - to see him like a child who is able to do the most pure and kindest of acts but also irreparable mistakes. In the photo, Abbot Ephraim of Vatopaidi with a child surrounded by his deacons and monks at the Procession of Saint Elias.
Do not fight to win the war but fight to win the peace. Then you'll have the necessary light in order to give to others. Theofilos, the Mitropolitan of Lefkadas, is pictured giving his liturgical candles to the deacons during the Divine Liturgy at the feast of Saint Ioakeim of Vatopaidi and Saint Gregory Palamas.
Man, being God's image, is corrected and guided much better through love, patience and understanding rather through anger, wrangle and hate. The first victory against anger is to keep the mouth shout when you're mad. After the wave of anger will pass and the eye of the mind will clean up and will you will see again without error, only then give explanations. And you'll see that in vast majority of cases there is no need of explanations anymore because the things will fix up by themselves. In this photo two brothers sharing a spiritual moment together during a short rest.
Perhaps it is a little bold what I'm saying but it is better to quarrel with God rather than with your spiritual father. If you are at odds with God, your spiritual father will reconcile you with Him. But if you are separated from your elder, who will reconcile with your spiritual guide?
God is pleased more in ones humility having been provoked by an unjust bout which he suffered rather than in ones pride which stems from a good thing which he accomplished. Moreover, He fills us with great joy if we keep our faith in Him and reject the sinister thoughts against the ones who unjustly wronged us. This photo is an emergency "identity card" shot for the Elder Silouan, a very poor hermit from Mount Athos, after he was looted by thieves which took all of his belongings (including his identity papers) leaving him only with his old work garment as pictured.