If the man doesn't cope with his own sins, devil will make him cope with other's. Based on St. Paisios the Athonite
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.
World War III: why and when? A pilgrim asked a monk, “When will the Third World War happen, and why?” The monk replied, “What is most important is the ‘why’. The greatest problem in the world today is not sin – even though indeed the sins are greater and more numerous that in the past. The greatest problem is that what is sinful is regarded as virtuous, and what is virtuous as sinful. This prevents us from repenting of what is truly sinful and consequently we can no longer improve our character. “God, therefore, as a loving Father, seeks to stop this movement in the wrong direction. He first tries to do this with wise words of instruction and admonishment, but since today no one (or perhaps very few) listen to His words or follow them, He must enter very dynamically into history. This doesn't mean that God makes the war happen but rather than war is the inevitable outcome of man’s rejection of His grace, which is the only thing that is able to keep hatred and evil in check, including the disastrous wars. And the great suffering that we already see is only the beginning. “This is why you should not be too concerned with “when” and other such details; rather repent and pray for peace because, nevertheless, the time indeed is drawing near.” Today’s photo is from the Vespers of Forgiveness, the last service before Great Lent and the prime service of joyful repentance in the Church year.
A disciple once asked an elder, “From the time of Adam until Christ have there been exactly 5508 years?” In reply the elder said, “Son, if this is the thing important to your salvation, then I will personally find out the answer”. There are plenty of difficult questions and mysteries in the Holy Bible (and in other spiritual works) that would be interesting to research. While this kind of study is not forbidden, the highest monasticism has always focused on what is most important: our deification through God’s grace. This requires great labor in order to cleanse our sin-laden souls, thus purifying our spiritual intellect and vision. Only after this are we able to tackle such mysteries. Moreover, if a humble person reaches, by God’s grace, a state of illumination, then Grace itself reveals the key to such mysteries to him, though he is unable to express in in words what he is experiencing. In this photo, two school boys from Athonian Academy are asking something one of the Elders from Vatopaidi.
People who work for Christ, but with pride, stink out their virtues with their pride. It’s like if you’re frying eggs and you get bird droppings in them. You have to throw the whole lot out, including the frying pan. That's why the monks seek always the humbleness. Based on St Paisios the Athonite In this photo is depicted the chef monk from the St George's Cell at Kolitsou, near Vatopaidi, preparing the grilled fish for the feast of St. George in an empty barrel which was used as stove.
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.
To judge sins is the business of one who is sinless; who is sinless except God? It is not right to judge others even if one sees evil with their own eyes. One may only judge the sin and not the sinner. There exists an entire world within the every person that cannot be judged, except by God. The quality of each person is given by the quality of their thoughts. Have good thoughts for a good life; bad thoughts for a bad one. Based on St. Gennadius of Constantinople The photo depicts a small resting place near to Chapel of Prof. Elijah which belongs to Dochiariou Monastery.
“The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one”. Material things with their worldly light distract from the ultra-brightness of the dark abyss of the Deity. Consequently, the holy fathers struggled to escape from the allure of material things in order to be free to partake in the joy of God’s grace. For this reason the Church is reserved and treads carefully in the face of today’s rapid technological developments. Indeed, our genuine material needs are few; the Church, however, does not indiscriminately press its members with rigid limitations but takes into account the weakness of the soul, while at the same time encouraging it to embrace the struggle according to its spiritual strength. Based on 1 John 5:19, St. Dyonisius the Aeropagite.
If you begin to guard wealth it will not be yours. Rather, if you begin to distribute it, you will not lose it. It is much better to give than take. Based on St Basil; Facts 20:35 In this photo one of the Vatopaidi bakers while taking out the bread from the oven for the needs of the brotherhood, pilgrims and surrounding ascetics.
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
Don’t neglect your prayers. Just as the body becomes weak when it’s deprived of food, so the soul, when it’s deprived of prayer, weakens and draws near to the death of the intellect. If the mind is free of the things of this world, it turns in on itself and from itself soars to God. Based on St. Gennadius of Constantinople, St. Basile the Great
It is impossible, someone says, impossible to spend the present day devoutly unless we regard it as the last of our whole life; and it is truly astonishing how even the pagans have said something of the like, since they define philosophy as the meditation on death. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.
He who exposes every snake to his spiritual father shows that he has real faith; but he who hides them will wander in trackless wastes.
The critical significance of death isn't the end of ones life. Mans immortal soul continues existing after death. The implication of death lies in the fact that afterwards the soul cannot help itself anymore to improve its existential state in front of God. Consequently, one's soul relies on the prayers and good acts of faith done towards the benefit of their name from the others which are still behind in man's earthly existence which is called "life". The Church has special prayers and services for the departed ones which portray church's global love for everyone as well as the acknowledgement that we all are alive. In this photo, a priest reads a prayer for the departed in front of the icon of Christ while blessing the koliva.
Mans' inner hell isn't a consequence of sin but a result of the lack of repentance. To sin is human. To not sin is divine. To persist in your mistakes is diabolical.
A firm beginning will certainly be useful for us when we later grow slack. A soul that is strong at first but then relaxes is spurred on by the memory of its former zeal. And in this way new wings are often obtained. When the soul betrays itself and loses the blessed and longed for fervor, let it carefully investigate the reason for losing this and let it arm itself with all its longing and zeal against whatever has caused this. For the former fervor can return only through the same door through which it was lost. In this photo deacons are shown while censing at Easter. Vatopaidi monastery.
For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.
It is one thing to speak about work and another to work practically. It is one thing to speak about pain and another to feel the pain. It is one thing to speak about honey and another to have the experience of its sweetness. The same stands for the spiritual matters: One thing is to speak about heavenly events and another to feel the Holy Spirit's energy in one's soul. God's grace comes when one implements acts of virtue. With words alone, his faith is dead. In this photo a member of the Governing Council of Vatopaidi Monastery is hard at work cleaning up one of the monastery's springs.
All warfare is based on deception and has as an ultimate purpose; the hate and death of the human soul. That's why in spiritual warfare never ever believe in your thoughts. Did you see a man who erred? He believed his thoughts. After that, if there is lack of repentance and spiritual guidance, internal hopelessness comes which cuts the human being to his core. It is his spiritual death. In this photo one of the brothers having a pensive moment before the common meal.
Just as your stomach repulsed when you saw the revulsion of the rotted fruit, in the same way God hates the procurers of hypocrisy. On the outside, a fruit may seem just fine, but as soon as you scratch the surface the decay of the core becomes fully evident! Christ, which is the Living True Love, said: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." In this photo the juices of a rotten watermelon burst out while being squeezed by one of the gardeners.
When, in the absence of our superior, we imagine his face and think that he is always standing by us, and avoid every meeting, or word, or food, or sleep, or anything else that we think he would not like, then we have truly learned authentic obedience. Illegitimately born children regard the absence of their teacher as a joy, but the legitimate ones think it a loss. Monks pictured while preparing the meal in Vatopaidi's refectory.
Paradise Lost God is good by nature and hence He didn't prepare hell for mankind. However, since God respects our free will, mankind still has the capacity to fall into hell through the fulfilling of his own distorted will and by not carrying outs good works according to each one's God given abilities. The only passion which hinders man from fulfilling God’s commandments, from performing acts of virtue, is our negligence. This negligence is cured by almsgiving and prayer. The distortion of our human nature is shocking. Man loses eternal paradise senselessly.
Holy Communion is the central mystery in the life of the Church. Oftentimes, unfortunately, we disregard this ultimate mystery of unity with God, and infrequently choose to receive this great gift making use of various excuses and justifications. This discrepancy is a confirmation of our distance from the center of the church which is Christ. Oddly, we dont seek to meet Christ who is constantly waiting to grant us life but rather we continue to crucify him daily through our sins. Here we realize the impact of our human distortion.
The most powerful weapon of the devil is desperation. He doesn't rejoice so much when we sin compared to when we despair. This is because the last and definitive victory of the devil is when he succeeds to put the soul into despair. That's why we must remember that God always has an open door, an open window for us. Always. All we have to do is keep on walking towards his countenance .