Miracles of the Holy Sepulcher – Father John Meiu, Fr. Theologos3 July 2022
Questions and Answers: What Is the Holy Mountain, How Are the Feast Days Experienced – Father Pimen Vlad7 July 2022
Today’s society is very far from God and – therefore – a distancing from it is required in order to get closer to God.
But what are the pitfalls that appear to us on this path? Watch this video and you will find out.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, and now and ever and unto the ages and ages. Amen
Distinguishing passions In one of the previous clips, we gave some examples of passions and a small categorization of their characteristics. How can we distinguish passions? I mean, how do we know that something is a passion for us? How do we know that a thought is passion for us?
These features are:
– The material side – that is, the passions pull us towards matter, to this world
– Being temporary – that is, we love a thing that passes, that is not eternal, that does not help us in eternity.
Because of this we have to be very careful!
Getting rid of matter
To be rational you must:
One: Let us get rid of matter – that is, to be the be in control of matter and not be controlled by matter. When I say to master matter, brethren, I don’t mean to always think of gathering and amounting to more, to store it, I mean to rise above it spiritually. Do you understand? Not so much transforming matter for our selfish benefit, but transforming matter to see the image of God through it. That is, to draw closer to God through matter and not to turn away making a god out of matter.
The thought of death
Beyond this getting rid of matter, of rising above matter, the second thing to help us be rational is the thought of death. Taking death into account. Regarding the temporary nature of the passions.
What does it mean to think about death? It does not mean to be terrified and to be melancholic and depressed that death is coming and nothing makes sense anymore. On the contrary. The meaning is that we must not take care of anything that cannot do us good in the hour of our trouble, as St. John of the Ladder says, that is, in the hour of death. Let us only take care of the things we can carry beyond death and only the things that can help us so that we have a good death. And when I say a good death – that is, a death as close to God. So a great spiritual level. That is very important. Do you understand?
So the things which we must discard are all fleeting things, all things subjected to corruption, all things which are connected with the body, with matter. These things we use only to prolong our lives here on earth, not in the sense of fulfilling our selfish desires, but in the sense of giving time for repentance, time to become better. Because I said that time is given to become better. Time is the possibility of improvement.
Because of this we do not have time today, because instead of dealing with becoming better spiritually, we use time to acquire matter.
Contempt for the worldly
Therefore, combining the material plane and the thought of death, we must despise, spiritually, all that there is in the world. But without hating it. How is that done? As we despise and reckon for example, toys or all the things of our childhood with which we played at the age of our infancy, you know, because here too we are babies when it comes to the eternal life.
So like this time, I’m looking at the toys that a 5-year-old is playing with, and this form of contempt arises, but this form of contempt is not sinful. So must we see the things in life. Because in the next life, we will be mature about life here, as life here is a childhood, a beginning of the future life.
There have even been some very interesting books on this subject, even some science fiction books, in which exactly this theme is described: the theme of the fact that life here is actually a preparation for the future life. Of course I’m not going to recommend science fiction books now. I recommend books of the Holy Fathers who all talk about this: that here we are in preparation for the next life and here is actually a runway to take off to the heavens, to the kingdom of heaven.
And so because of that, brethren, we don’t have to burden with much weight our plane that’s going to take off through death to life. We need to be as light as possible so that we can take off as high as possible. Do you understand?
If we tie to the wheels and the wings a lot of hardships, a lot of memories, a lot of material things from this life, we’re going to collapse on take off. And the take off will be great. Do you understand?
Because of this we must leave behind everything that cannot help us in the moment of death, as St. John of the Ladder says, or, as St. Isaac the Syrian says, that all the things in this world that we cannot take with us beyond death should be counted as a dream.
Now, beyond our personal death, we must remember the death that haunts the world. All things here on this earth are stricken with death because as you very well know, everywhere there is corruption, “fthora” in Greek. As it says in the Scripture, that the entire world is subject to corruption, not inherently because the creation did not sin, but the man sinned, and because of man all that was created is pulled into corruption and it sighs waiting for the resurrection.
So because of that, brethren, we don’t have to tie ourselves to anything at all. Neither to a stocking, nor to a needle, nor to a Mercedes, nor to a house, nor to a social position. We’ve talked about these things in previous clips.
Eh, and you see that because of this the Scripture says that people stand in the shadow of death, and Christ Himself said: let the dead bury their dead So the Lord Himself counts dead those who are cut off from Him, from the Source of Life. Life, you need to know brothers, is a person, it is God! Life is not the accumulation of binges, of entertainment at concerts, at parties, at all kinds of gatherings, but the real life is, as I said, the union with Christ.
To live vs. to exist
Those who are united with Christ are alive, they live, the others, they just exist!
Because of this, devils do not live, but only exist because they are the “deadest” creatures that can exist because they are the furthest from God. They are the most non-existent as much as it is possible for a soul, for an eternal existence such as the devil. Do you understand?
So because of that, brethren, we need to minimize relationships with those who can’t help us be closer to God, closer to life, closer to perfection.
Traps from devils
Now, in order to bring us down to the world, you must know that the devils, after we reject this world that exists in the shadow of death, the devils urge us to praise the merciful laymen and to complain that “ouch, how we have deprived ourselves of these virtues, how beautiful it was and how much fun they had” and so on.
The devil’s goal is that through a pretended humility he will make us return to the world or by remaining outside it, to plunge us into despair. Do you understand? The devil fights brutally, using our inexperience. Because of this, as I said, brethren, let’s not pay attention, let’s not start dwelling on the thoughts that tell us “look, how good it is in the world” and so on. We must look unbothered at those in the world and with some form of pride and even to defame them in order to escape hopelessness and to gain hope.
Of course, this is only for those who have fallen into despair. If someone is already proud that he has left the world and is on top. Of course they’re not going to say that they’re even above because then they harden in their pride. Do you understand?
But usually, at the beginning of our separation from the world, from this amalgamation of passions, young people, especially, fall into despair and want to return to the world again. Because of this it is very good – and St. John of the Ladder says on this subject – somehow to have hope that they are on a higher level, a form of pride in fact that is only allowed – once again – to those who fall into despair.
Another very interesting phenomenon when we really detach ourselves from the world is the following fact: that in the world, we have a lot of virtue – fasting, vigil, toil, prayer and so on. But the moment others no longer see us and no longer praise us, because we detach ourselves from the world, then all these virtues wither away. And then we don’t do that job anymore.
In this case, we should know not to be discouraged, but rather to continue on our way because only now we see who we are. And this, as I said, also happens with virtues, but especially it can also happen with things, with natural charismas. So for example, if someone was feeling good in his circle of friends and so on, when he detaches himself from the world, detaches himself from his sinful circle of friends, then the man gets discouraged: well, I felt great with friends and with how much they praised me. Brethren, that is temptation! Cut it out! Continue on your path and you will see that you will succeed if you get past this wave of hopelessness that the devil brings to you.Do you understand?
On the other hand, let us not be surprised and not judge when we see people that were once so covetous and so pleasant and in the spotlight and now they are no more. Because of course, this phenomenon of having virtues is no longer for reasons of vain glory.
The Withdrawal of Grace
Why we should not judge? Because as I said, the devil fights them and beyond that, you must know that after 3-4 years, the grace that is given as a gift to beginners withdraws. After 3 – 4 years, this is what all the Holy Fathers say, you can also read St. Joseph the Hesychast who speaks at length on this subject. Grace withdraws and so the young man no longer has the same zeal, no longer has the same patience that he had before, no longer has the same flame in his heart.
Grace, you need to know, does not disappear, as if it disappear, it is serious, but only withdraws as for the brother to be tried. Then the brother must be patient. He must be patient and not act the moment he is angry. He must let the dark tide of anger go out, and when the mind clears up, only then will he act. And he will always act under obedience. We must always obey, pray, and act. We do not do our own thing because we get on some very dangerous grounds and especially we do not leave our spiritual position, but we continue slowly and slowly forward.
In this grace period, in these 3 to 4 years, we must obey! It is very, very important that now we become obedient and do not waste time because the moment we are obedient we gain a grace, let’s say, so to speak, ours. It is also in the gift, but it is somewhat of a light of ours and the moment the huge sun of grace given as a gift by God in the first years disappears, in that moment, this light will guide us and first of all it will guide us to ask. Do you understand?
If not, we’re going to continually have riots: that one thing is not that good, the other isn’t good, that one bothers me, I’m bothered by the other one and so on. But if we have grace, through obedience from before, then we will know how to go and ask and be patient, God will help us. Do you understand?
And this is where our love for God is shown. When we withdraw from the world and this grace that sits over us like a hen over the chicks disappears and then we must show God that we really love Him. That’s a phenomenon.
Another equally interesting phenomenon that we need to know about is the fact that if we really break away from the world, we actually get rid of the sorrow. How do we get rid of grief, that so far we have only spoken of things that are sorrowful?
When we say that we are actually escaping sorrow, I mean that the world by its very fleeting nature causes us sadness. Why? Because the things we love are fleeting, the things we cling to are fleeting, the things or the people we attach ourselves to are fleeting, and then we will grieve when we lose them. Do you understand? And this is a much more dangerous sorrow, much greater than the sorrow that comes through the daily temptations. And because of this the devil tries to bring us daily temptations so as to bring us small sorrows so that he will return us to the world so that we may have great sorrows.
So because of this pay great, great attention, stay in position, brethren! Don’t back down! And like I said, pay great attention, as the devil makes use of our inexperience very strongly, very terribly like that. Patience, brothers! Patience and hope!
Because as you know, these great sorrows are very dangerous if we go back into the world as we’re going to fall into the barrel of melancholy. We’re going to dream all day, we’re going to wander around, just as not to stay home, and then of course the result will be depression, hopelessness and from there nervous diseases. Of course, depression is also such a very fine start, but very dangerous.
So pay a lot of attention, brethren, as I said, to the moment we move away from the world, to know where we are and not to leave our respective positions. And here the support of a spiritual parent helps a lot. Well, I’m not one myself, but I speak of what I know from actual spiritual parents and I pass on that.
Now, regarding this sadness caused by things or people in the world, you must know that if someone says that he has no passion for things or for a person, but he grieves the moment he loses it, then that man is deceiving himself. We must be perfectly prepared to lose and be separated from absolutely anyone and anything. Of course we will do our best not to separate ourselves from the people who can help us spiritually, but if it is God’s will, then let’s do God’s will and we will come out very well, you know. Always let us surrender to the will of God and not be troubled.
Of course, here we can also have this temptation with the sorrow that we no longer have virtues, but this is for those who seek vain glory and do not have the experience of the spiritual life. Don’t listen to your thoughts, brethren! I’ve said this a million times. Let us not listen to thoughts.
As you can see, it takes a lot, a lot, a lot of watchfulness. A lot of watchfulness. However, even more attention to the following fact is needed. When we were in the vortex of life with worries, with needs, with turmoil, some of us managed to escape this boat of the soul, the boat, from the rough sea. I was saying that everything is fine, everything is beautiful, that it is a civilized atmosphere and so on.
But when we reached the silence, the lack of care, then through the lack of worries we have become soft, we have scattered, and we have defiled ourselves in a pitiful way, with all kinds of other sins related to food, to bodily pleasures, I cannot give details, but I think you realize what I am talking about, bodily passions and so on. That’s what happens when someone is proud and does not take advice. When someone is not paying attention and does not know the lability of their nature. Do you understand?
So the man falls either into despair or into pleasures. The extremes are always from the devil, brethren! You should that extremes are from the devil and virtue is always at the center.
We have to be careful all the time, but when we leave the world, this attention changes, it is no longer that attention from the world, that of a harassed animal. The attention to the reclusory, the attention in the spiritual reclusory – this can be even in the world, yes, even more so at the monastery – the attention to the spiritual life, to exiting the world, this becomes smooth, becomes crystalline, becomes restful, becomes beautiful under the light of grace, under the light of the Holy Spirit. Do you understand?
Now, it turns out so that if we walk the narrow path of obedience, of fasting, of vigil, as it follows God… Come on, don’t hold vigils on the Internet and on the news, in bars and things like that. But hold the vigil that thins the mind, that makes man wise. The vigil of prayer, of goodness, of suffering, of being laughed at.
Yes, brethren, we should be laughed at. Surely, bullying and things like that are not good – they’re very destructive and those who do these things are going to give an answer before God, but we humbly have to accept these things. Let’s accept the slandering, let’s generally accept the labor of virtue that brings for the body, you must know, rest and deliverance from this world, from the love of the body, from the material control, from the separation between us. This is how one can reach the kingdom of heaven, brethren. Blessed are these for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, as the Lord says. That is, the spiritual kingdom, the spiritual, diaphanous kingdom of love. Do you understand?
Denying the world and one’s own will
In order to deny ourselves of this sinful world, we must deny ourselves of people, as I said, even of relatives, of parents. And this rejection does not come from hatred. Let it not be (out of hatred)! It comes, as I said, from the damage, from the turmoil that they bring us. We always have to love people, especially our relatives, our mother really gave birth to us, right? May the good God bless her! My mother and my parents as well, yes. But we have to stay away from them, as I said, because we also need it for our salvation and for their salvation. Let us stay away, let us have a clear mind so that we may pray to God.
So after denying of people, comes the denial of one’s own will – which is the touchstone in the spiritual life. That is, always to listen, we always have to be obedient, brethren!
We in monasticism, to the abbot or to the father to whom we are given in obedience, to the confessor – you who are in the world, to the wife, yes, we must always obey. Do not believe that we come out of this life and save ourselves without obedience. We have to obey. Of course, you from the world who are with discernment, in the case of monasticism, there is another situation, there is obedience to death, but here is also a whole story I would not want to detail because in general, I address to the lay people. But you need to know, brethren, that obedience is the way of existence of beings. And our Lord Jesus Christ was saved by obedience, brethren, by obedience to the Father who sent Him.
The most theological Gospel is the Gospel of St. John the Theologian and in this it is actually proved that our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God. How? Through His perfect obedience to the Father. And because of this you must know that obedience is the cornerstone on which our salvation is based.
Rejecting the vain glory
Rejecting the world is done by denying people, by turning away from people, by denying, turning away from one’s own will, and, brethren, by denying, departing from the vain glory that comes from the fulfillment of obedience. The vain glory that comes from our success as people and our success as humans comes, as I said, through success in obedience. So these are the three great denials to have in mind so that we can deny ourselves of the world.
The denial of people, the denial of one’s own will and after that, the denial of the vain glory that comes through success in obedience and denying people.
Regarding acquaintances, friends, relatives and so on, you should know that when demons bring us thoughts of regret about the fact that we have turned away from relatives and acquaintances and so on, we then must pray fiercely against demons and remember the eternal fire, the hellfire. Beware, however, that this prayer of ours is an expression of love for God and not of hatred for people! Do you understand?
Because there is also this phenomenon: that is, someone departs from his acquaintances not because he loves God or because he wants to help them too through prayer, pay great attention, not by returning to the world, not by excessively occupying his relatives, but by prayer. There is, as I said, this phenomenon of someone turning away from their relatives because they hate them. Good God forbid it! That’s not it! Do you understand?
Spiritual consequences of the distance from the world and its passions
And why do we have to move away – once again – from people? Because the moment we turn away from people and get closer to God, then we’re going to have these charismas of God, that is, we’re going to be loving, we’re going to be joyful, we’re going to be patient, we’re going to be full of hope. Do you understand? All the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Because of this we have to depart from the world, we have to get out of the world – the world seen not as the sum of the people, but as the cumulation, like the dark ball of passions. So only this way, brethren, will we reach happiness, reach joy and get rid of sorrow, of depression. Let the good God help us!
Through the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us! Amen
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