Watch a comforting word from Father Pimen about the kindness and mercy we should have as Christians, about our Cross and about our relationship with matter.
Every man has a cross to bear
Intro: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen! Christian brethren, today is a very special day! The reason is that we have with us Father Pimen Vlad from Mount Athos, who will share with us some words useful for the soul. Father, may God help us!
Father Pimen: Beloved faithful, you have heard in today’s Gospel: “Whoever wants to follow Me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” What does the Savior mean by these words? Why must we deny ourselves? In fact, what do we have to give up on? On our selfishness, on our pride and accept the cross that God has given us. Every man has a cross to bear. Whether he wants to or not, he has to carry the cross and will eventually give an account of how he carried it.
To one it can be the cross of disease, of suffering. He may have an illness from birth and this is his cross, to be patient with what God has given him. Others may have other trials, but no man is without a cross. That’s why we as humans must always be content with what God has given us because nothing is accidental in our lives. Even if some things seem harder to us, God still gives us the strength to bear them.
Let’s make do with what we have
That is why it is said that the man who is satisfied with what he has, is satisfied all the time and then he is happy because he never longs for anything else. He thanks God for what He has given him and he puts his trust in Him.
He who is dissatisfied always looks at others and always longs to have more like others, but never thinks that maybe he has enough. And then even if he acquires certain things he wants, he is still unhappy because he sees in others something more valuable and is constantly in a race to have more, thinking that if he gets that thing he will be happy. But having acquired that too, he soon realizes that he is still unfulfilled. We see some of the world’s greatest people, who have acquired all the riches and who in the end, many of them, have taken their life because they couldn’t feel content. They finally realized that it was not the material part that made them content and happy. They have in fact forgotten God, which is most important.
Let us accept our cross
Therefore, let us accept the cross that God has given to each of us and thank Him every day and then we will see peace come to our family. I remember a story now.
There was a wealthy man, and, on his way home from work, he passed by the house of a family with many children. Every time he passed by, he heard shouts of joy and laughter from the house, and he marveled that there was no such thing in his house. He passed by several times and thought of helping them, seeing their poverty.
And so he brought them a larger sum of money. The next day, he passed the house and there was no more joy or happiness. The next day, when passing by again, he heard arguments, misunderstandings, shouting. And on the third day when he passed, the master of the house came out to meet him, saying: “You take back the money, because since you brought me the money, you have brought strife and unhappiness into my home. We started arguing because we didn’t know what to do with them. We used to be happy with what we had. We thanked God that we had bread on the table and lived in joy and happiness. As soon as the money came in, we started fighting. Please, take them back as we prefer to live in poverty, but also in joy and harmony!”.
Material things won’t make us happy
That’s why we often run to the ends of the earth to collect more, thinking that money or material things will make us happy. Never! We need them too, but first of all we need God, because without God nothing has value! And the Holy Scripture also tells us that the soul is more valuable than all the goodness and riches of the earth. And if we lose the soul, even if we gain all that there is on this Earth, it is all in vain. Maybe you’ve had people leave you, or you’ve been to funerals and seen that no one takes anything with them. Any man leaves between the four planks with what he has done in life, with what he has left behind him good or bad. Because if we only think about the material side, leaving a lot of wealth behind us here will not help us in the other world.
A day we don’t do something good is a day wasted
Only whatever good deed we have done here, the help we gave to others, will help us. I remember Father Ioanichie Bălan from the Sihăstria Monastery. During the first years while I was there, I was still doing monastic school with him, Father Cleopa and the other priests. I remember Father Ioanichie Bălan saying: “Even if one day you failed to make your obedience, it’s not such a big deal! You didn’t get your work done or you were a little late to Church, that’s not such a big deal either! Let there not be a day without love, a day without doing good, a day without helping someone with a word, a deed or whatever you can! A day we don’t do some good is a day wasted!”.
Let us not be afraid to confess God
Therefore let us try to do good according to our power because if we do not do good, evil comes by itself. He also tells us in today’s Gospel that “he who is ashamed of me before men, I will be ashamed of him before the Father.” What does this mean? Let us not be ashamed of God! When we pass by a church, let us not be ashamed to make the sign of the cross thinking that those around us or the entourage we are with can see us. Nor be afraid to profess God. Let us not be ashamed when we start work wherever we work, to make the sign of the cross and ask God for help.
Love is above all
We don’t realize how much we need the help of God and of the Mother of God, and we are often ashamed of those when we are around others. We see them swearing and we laugh with them instead of resisting or turning away from those who do these things. Let us never be ashamed of God because without God we have no value. We have come from Him and we are going to Him in the end. And we see another thing that is often repeated in Holy Scripture: “And these three remain: hope, faith and love, and love is above all!”. That’s why they say love never falls. To understand what love means… love doesn’t seek its own.
He who has love, who loves, only gives, never asks from others. We sometimes confuse love with selfishness. We make demands, we ask in the name of love. No! Love never asks, it only offers, it only sacrifices for others. She is always ready to reach out to help, to support those around her with everything she can. This is why the Holy Apostles tell us in several places that if we do not have it, we are a resounding cymbal, we are nothing without love. That is why we should try, as much as we can, to do good to those around us, because this is also love. Let’s help them, not judge them!
God gives grace to the humble and is against the proud
And there’s another beautiful word that says: “God gives grace to the humble, and He opposes the proud.” That is, if we humble ourselves, God gives us grace because without God’s grace we can do nothing. All is by His grace, He gives us strength, He enlightens us and He helps us. If we have pride in ourselves we become warriors against God. Do we not see that even angels fell from heaven precisely because of pride? Not even they were spared; instead, they were punished. That is why it is said that God gives grace to the humble, and hinders the proud!
Sometimes we are stubborn and we rise up against God and we see that everything goes against us, troubles in the family, problems at work, but we do not humble ourselves, we do not ask for his help, we do not go to Church for Holy Liturgy. We need to confess, to straighten our lives, to approach God and ask for his help and then we will see that God gives us grace and then we will have inner peace, peace, joy, and if we have these, everything else remains in the shadow. We can be content with a piece of bread because we have peace. And even in the family you can see that if there is peace, quiet, whatever you have on the table everything is nice and good. If there is no peace, you can have any wealth, there will still be continuous misunderstanding, quarrelling, and in the end everyone will go his own way.
Peace is ten times greater than justice
Therefore let us ask for God’s help, let us humble ourselves more because: “Humility lifts us up to the gates of heaven, and mercy opens them for us.” Let us humble ourselves, let us bow our heads even if we are right. Father Arsenie Papacioc said that: “Peace is ten times greater than justice!”. We often think we are right, we argue with everyone and actually destroy our peace, we hurt others in the name of justice. If we manage to humble ourselves, it’s all over. No matter how much harm the other does, if we humble ourselves each time, the other wakes up when he sees that you never resist him, but humble yourself and move on.
Mercy opens the gates of heaven
And mercy opens the gates of heaven. Charity means mercy, not necessarily taking something out of your pocket, no! Have pity on those around you, help them with a word, a prayer, anything you can. This is what reaches God! I remember here a story, how a hermit priest came down to Egypt making baskets of twigs. He wanted to sell his baskets at the market. On the way he sees a man with no legs in a corner, begging. People threw him a few things, but they ignored him because he looked a little unkempt. Seeing this suffering man, he wondered what he could do to help him. He had no money, no need for baskets, and then he approached him and hugged him, saying: “Forgive me, brother, for I have nothing else to give you!”.
Seeing this, the beggar began to cry saying that he had never received anything like this before. This hermit, by the embrace he gave him, touched his heart with what was more valuable than anything others gave him. Do this around you and you will see how much peace and quiet you will have around your homes.
And let us not forget that we have the Mother of God who is our link with Heaven, she mediates for us before God. Therefore let us pray to her every day. I tell many people, ten minutes in the evening to sit on your knees in front of the icon of the Mother of God and tell her your joys and sorrows and the Mother of God will always listen and help you. May the Mother of God help us and may the Good Lord watch over us always!
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