The Miracles of Athos: The Monk Who “Sees” Through People. Father Pimen │ Fain & Simple Podcast 06327 April 2022
A New Saint in the Church. Who Is the Saint? – Father Theologos30 April 2022
How should we relate to Bright Week? What is the relationship between the pain in our lives and the joy of the resurrection? Watch this video to find out.
I tell her: “Mother of God, it hurts.” And I leave it to her, she knows then [what to do]. The pain goes on, there’s no no problem. But I know that I’ve told the Mother of God. I pour out my heart to her. CHRIST IS RISEN! Look, my dear ones, we’re seeing each other again! In the Bright Week, the week of joy! Yes! The week during which all creation is joyful. That is why this is said during the Paschal Matins, when the Paschal Sermon of Saint John Chrysostom is read: “Let no one sadden, rejoice you all.” It says there: “Rejoice, celebrate! Feast you all, the calf is fatted. Let no one go hungry away.” The spiritual joy, this is meant here. We should all feel joy, taste it, live it, no matter what we have experienced or how we have gone through the Great Lent, with temptations, with sorrows. Not only those who have fasted, but also those who have disregarded the fast shall enjoy the Lord’s Resurrection! The Resurrection of our Savior, Who brought us life. Did you understand, my dears? And look: I go back with my mind, rewinding more than 2,000 years ago years ago, to the times when our Savior was in the tomb and everybody [was] sad. Let’s take a look at the Apostles. They were frightened, not only sad, but afraid, terrified. They were locked in the house, afraid of the Jews. They were frightened.
What were the myrrh-bearing women doing? The Mother of God? St. Mary Magdalene? Mary, Martha and all the other ones? What were they doing? They went all the way to the Cross, followed Him until He was crucified. They disregarded fear and everything else. They suffered [with Him], they mourned and then they even went to the tomb. The others remained locked in the house. They were afraid. The myrrh-bearing women, together with the Mother of God, went to the tomb! As written in the Gospel, they were asking each other: “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” They didn’t ask how they will manage with the soldiers. Because there was a guard placed there, armed soldiers. The women were not afraid of them. Their concern – “How will we roll that huge 200-300 kg stone away from the door of the tomb?” They went without fear, very early while still dark outside, alone, not caring about anything, they went for love of the Savior, with their sorrowful hearts. Especially the Mother of God, knowing that her Son, whom she raised with so much love, is buried in the tomb! And when they arrived there, what did they find? The soldiers were unconscious – like I told you before – as a result of the Glory of the Savior’s Resurrection and they saw an angel sitting on that rolled away rock. And he said: “Who are you looking for? Jesus? He is not here, He is risen!” Did you understand? He is risen. I.e. He gave them this joy, they could still not believe it. “What? Was He really resurrected?” I.e. they were in that state of being overwhelmed. And then the Savior appeared to them. What does He tell them? The first word, knowing their sorrow, their hearts? Because they are not afraid, there was nothing else wrong with them. So, they were only suffering inside, they were crying, mourning …
And He told them: “Rejoice!” This was the first word. Rejoice! And only afterwards did He add: “Don’t be afraid!” So, they needed to somehow understand that it was time to rejoice, to stop suffering. And can you imagine how much joy there was? It is said that they gave the Savior a warm greeting, kissed His feet after he had told them “Rejoice!” I.e. she felt Him close. The Mother of God, her son … now also God in glory. Can you imagine how much joy, what the Mother of God went through there? Think about a simple mother who leaves with her child, goes away, suffers, knows that he is locked, tortured and goes through so much, and then she meets him at some point. How much joy she feels because she sees him alive. All the more so the Mother of God! And afterwards, Christ appeared to the Apostles. But what did He tell them when He had appeared for the first time? “Don’t be afraid!” He knew they were terrified, frightened, hidden. „Do not be afraid!” And what else did He tell them? “Peace be with you! May you have peace. I give you my peace.” I.e. “Stop feeling so much stress!” I.e. “I give you peace, calm down!” First: “Do not be afraid, do not fear, because no one will do anything to you” – without God’s permission. What will come and how they will suffer…
As we know, all the Apostles died as martyrs, except for St. John the Evangelist, who was also tortured and exiled, but God allowed him to live to be old. All the other ones had this faith But then, Christ told them: “Don’t be afraid! There are no reasons to fear! What can men do to you? They can kill the body, but not the soul. They cannot touch it.” And then the Apostles took courage. They, too. They could not believe: “What? We saw as they buried Him and now He is risen to life!” So He took a load of their minds. They too started to feel joy. But not everybody had the chance to do so, as we can see in the case of Luke and Cleopas, who were going to Emmaus and the Savior appeared to them along the road. But their eyes were closed, their spiritual eyes were closed so that they don’t know Him. And they were discussing the matter as it was serious: “They tortured Him, they crucified Him, they buried Him …” This was the only subject to talk about, you can imagine.
All of a sudden, they have lost their hope! And then the Savior asked them: “But what are you talking about? What is all this?” “Well, didn’t you hear what happened to Jesus from Nazareth, a powerful man, who showed His power by what He did and said”, and so on and so forth. And then? What did Savior reply to them? “How can your mind and heart be so slow to understand? Didn’t you know that [Messiah] would have to suffer all this? Didn’t you read the Scriptures?” And Jesus began to explain them [the Scriptures]. And note that He was talking both as God and as a man. Their hearts felt so much sweetness, they couldn’t have enough. And when it was time to say goodbye: “Wait, do not leave, stay with us, keep talking to us!” So much joy they felt. And they knew Him when He broke bread, when He blessed it as God. Their eyes opened. I.e. He gave them Communion again. It was then when their mind, their eyes cleared up. They saw that He was the Savior. And He disappeared. They returned to Jerusalem and told [the Apostles]: “We met Him!” The Apostles: “Yes, He appeared to us, too.”
So they all felt joy. You can imagine that state of fear. You can also feel it whenever something or someone is threatening you and you are afraid, you remain hidden. They were humans, too. They went through all this. But imagine how much joy our Savior gave them: “Peace be with you! Do not be afraid! Have courage, I am with you!” Well, and this is how He exhilarated them. But one of the Apostles, Thomas, was not there. This is how God arranged it. Because he was the man who would always split hairs, so to speak. “Well, did He indeed [rise to life]? Unless I see [the scars], unless I touch [them], unless I prove it, it means it is not true. You see, there are people who take things as they come and people who split hairs, who want to be sure… Well, St. Thomas was also like this: “Unless I see, I won’t believe! I do not accept what you are telling me.” Although he had lived with them. But no! “Unless I see Him, unless I put my hand, unless I touch Him, to prove that the spear went into His side. The nails – I must see the scars, that it is Him. What if it is not Him?” And when they were all gathered there, the 2nd Sunday after the Holy Resurrection – the Sunday of St. Thomas, as it is called – Thomas was also there, they were all together in one place.
They were singing, enjoying, but Thomas was a little cheerless: “Why are so joyful? I do not know whether it is true. Unless I see, I won’t believe!” And the Savior appeared in their midst while the doors were locked So, there was no way to come in. He told them: “Peace be with you! Thomas, come here and reach out your hand into my side and put your finger into the mark of the nails!” And then, what did Thomas reply? “My Lord and my God!” He has convinced himself. The Lord shattered all his doubts. But why did God allow it this way? For those who lived later, for us who live nowadays. For unbelievers, for us to have Thomas’ clear acknowledgement, who touched and saw. God arranged this thing for us! So that we are always convinced of the Gospel truth. Yes, my dears. Do you realize how many reasons for joy we have? The Savior conquered death, conquered everything. He had lived among them. Can you imagine the state they were permanently in? Wherever they went, they looked: “Isn’t he appearing? Aren’t we seeing Him?…” So, He had appeared to them, He had constantly appeared to them. So, they were always alert. He had appeared many times to them, even on the sea …
They did not know, we can say they were in an ecstatic trance, in a permanent state of full joy. They were attentive because after they had all seen Him, they were convinced of Him. Do you realize what joy they had lived those days? Seeing that the Savior has now come in glory, as an Almighty God. I.e. they were without a shred of doubt. Yes, my dears! Can you see how many reasons for joy we have? Let us feel the joy, my dear ones! Maybe you ask yourselves whether I don’t have worries, if I don’t have pains, as I am always talking about joy, about feeling joy, I enjoy everything around me. Look here! How beautiful a tree bloomed – someone called it somehow, I don’t know its name even to this day… It is a variety of Japanese rose. You have seen, the Chinese, Japanese people have this type of flowers. The forests are full of them here. These trees blossom in spring! They are so beautiful! Yes! And like I said, do I only have reasons for joy? YES! Only reasons for joy. Why? I don’t know if you read the book of Father Dimitrie Bejan, it is called “The Joys of Suffering”. Yes, one can feel joy even when suffering. Why not? Look, just before the [Feast of the] Holy Resurrection, on [Maundy] Thursday, on the Thursday Christ gave the Apostles the Holy Communion, I was in church, in the major church. We were all there in the morning, the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick was performed by seven priests, as we usually do it, and The Divine Liturgy followed afterwards. It all lasted 4 hours.
The day before, on Wednesday, I did a bit of work around the house. It was a little bit harder. And my heart is more sensitive. And I started to feel a stabbing pain in my chest. My heart started to hurt. Well, I tried to get through it. My heart hurt in church. It was a pounding pain, my heart muscles hurt as if someone had hit me with a hammer in the chest. I had a splitting headache, my back hurt. I could barely stand on my feet. Everything hurt, everything! A father even asked me: ”How do you feel?” “I feel like I got hit by a train running at 100 km/h, something like that!”. This does not mean that I could not feel joy. The pain is one thing, but the joy we feel is interior, inward. Joy at everything spiritual that surrounds us, at God’s and the Mother of God’s kindness. We feel joy for all these things. And the suffering was gone. I received the Holy Communion and the pain soothed a bit. I went home, I had a rest. And I slowly overcame it. So, everybody has their cross to bear.
If we feel joy, if we see someone on the street smiling, feeling joy, it does not mean that this person does not have sorrows, worries. No! But they overcome them well. Meaning that they find joy in any sorrow! They find the good things in anything. Or they look at why God allowed that thing. “I know! Because I deserve it! Or because I have to improve something!” “It hurts this, it hurts that…” Sometimes, when it hurts more, especially when I am alone in my cell, to whom do I turn? To my mother! To the Mother of God, who is my mother! And when it hurts a lot, I talk to her. I do not ask her to take my pain away! Never this thing! I tell her: “Mother of God, it hurts…” You know how a child tells his mother: “It hurts”. The mother can’t take the pain away, but she takes her child in her arms and he feels good, even if the pain goes on. Well, this is how I feel! I tell her: “Mother of God, it hurts.” And I leave it to her, she knows then [what to do]. The pain goes on, there’s no problem.
But I know I’ve told the Mother of God about it. I pour out my heart to her. Let’s do this! Let’s tell the Mother of God about anything we have. Because she is a mother. A mother who went through suffering and she is always there for us. She will never leave us, just so you know. She is there for us the moment we turn to her! Yes, my dear ones? So, rejoice! Rejoice heavily! Like I said, feel the joy at every small thing, at every person around you. Try to find the good side, even if this person is more difficult, moodier, has different passions Try to find the good side! Or bring your love to that more difficult side. Be in nature, now is spring, see the beauty! Take your mind off the war! Can’t you see that war [is going on] for so many months and our people die without being at war, only from fear, panic, stress! Enough! Christ is risen! It is [reason for] joy! Christ knows what He’ll do with us. If He wants us to die in war, we’ll die in war. If He wants us to die in peacetime, we’ll die in peacetime. We are all going to die. Nobody remains here. But where will we go in the after-world? We say in these worldly words that we die, but actually, it is the passage to the after-life, the passage to joy! Passage to Christ, to the Mother of God!! Can you imagine how much joy getting there brings us? In this world, you can see beautiful flowers, birds, all types of insects! But think that they are thousands of times more beautiful there, in light, in joy, near the Mother of God, the saints. How much much joy there is! Yes, my dear ones?
Come on! Try to rejoice! I look over there and see the lizards moving so beautifully in the sun, listening to what I say. So, the whole nature has come to life. So, God is permanently doing His work, even now. As He did at the beginning He said and it was so: nature comes to life and rejoices, especially now, at Easter. It feels joy at the Lord’s Resurrection. Let us rejoice, too! Let us truly live the Resurrection! Let us be more forgiving, kinder, more loving! And God and the Mother of God won’t leave us! May God help us, may the Mother of God help us and Christ is risen, my dear ones!
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