Category Archives: Stories of Faith

Too Many Worries Make People Forget God

3rd SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 6: 22-33

– Geronda (spiritual elder in Greek), does worrying about too many things take us away from God?
Look, let me try to explain. When a little child is playing and is all absorbed with his toys, he s not aware that his father may be next to him caressing him. If he interrupts his play a bit, then he will become aware of his father’s caresses. Similarly, when we are preoccupied with too many activities and are anxiously concerned about them, when we worry too much about worldly matters, we cannot become aware of God’s love. God gives but we do not sense it. Be careful not to waste your precious energy on redundant worries and vanities, which will turn to dust one day. When you do this, you not only tire your body, but you also scatter your mind aimlessly, offering God only your fatigue and yawns at the time of prayer – much like the sacrifice offered by Cain. It follows that your inner state will be like that of Cain’s, you will be full of anxiety and sighs provoked by the devil standing by your side.

You must not waste aimlessly the fruit, the inner cure of our power and then leave the shells for God. The many cares of life sap the marrow of our heart and leave nothing for Christ. If you notice that your mind constantly wanders off to various chores that you have to do, you must realize that you are not doing well spiritually, and this should alarm you because you have distanced yourself from God. You must realize that you are closer to material things than you are to God, closer to creation than to Creator.

We must learn to care about things in the right way
If we seek above all the Kingdom of Heaven and that’s all we care for, the rest will be given to us (Mt 6:33, Lk 12:13). If we become forgetful, then not only do we waste our time but we waste our own self. When we remain mindful and prepare for the next life, than this life too will become meaningful. When we start thinking of the next life, nothing is the same anymore. But if all we think about is how to make this a comfortable life, then not only are we miserable, but we end up weary and condemned. Do not be overwhelmed with anxiety and be possessed by the thought that, “Now we must do this, next we must do that and so on,” because this way Armageddon (Rev 16:16). Will come and you will still be hard at work. Even doing things with anxiety is demonic. Tune in to Christ! Otherwise, you will appear to be living near Him but inside you will still carry the mindset of this world, and you might and up, I’m afraid like the foolish virgins (Mt 25:1-13).

The wise virgins did not only had kindness, they also had the right kind of mindfulness, unlike the foolish virgins that were careless, they were on guard and vigilant. This is why the Lord gave them the solemn warning, Be awake and watchful (Mt 25:13). They were virgins but foolish. If someone is born a fool, it is a blessing from God. She enters directly into the next life without having to pass any examinations. But if she is gifted with an intelligent mind and yet lives a foolish life, she will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment.

Can you see in the case of Martha and Mary, mentioned in the Gospel (Lk 10:38-42), how mindless care for things caused Martha to behave somewhat impudently? It seems that in the beginning Mary was actually helping her, but when she realized that Martha was nowhere near completing her preparations, she went her and went to listen to Jesus. She thought to herself, “Am I to lose time with my Christ for the sake of Martha’s salads and sweets?” As if Christ had come to their home to taste Martha’s salads and foods! It was then that Martha became annoyed and said, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? (Lk 10:40). Let us be careful, then, not to behave like Martha. Let us pray that we will become good “Marys”.

An Excerpt from “With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man” by Elder St Paisios of Mount Athos (Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologion”, 2006)

Elder Paisios and St. Euphemia
“Father Paisios was going through a very difficult phase. A problem was created in the Church at that time and many bishops had gone to him to ask for his help. However, it was a very complicated problem and even if he wanted to, he was unable to assist; as he said, no matter from which side you look at the problem, you come face to face with a spiritual impasse. So, he decided to turn his efforts to solve the problem into prayer. During that time, Father Paisios constantly prayed for God to give solution to the Church’s problem; especially, he prayed to St Ephemia:
St Ephemia, you who miraculously solved the serious problem the Church was facing then, take the Church out of the present impasse!

One morning, at nine o’ clock, when Father Paisios was reading the service of the third hour, he suddenly heard someone discreetly knocking on his door.

The Elder asked from inside: – Who is it?
Then, he heard a woman’s voice answering: – It is me, Ephemia, Father.
– Which Ephemia? He asked again.
There was no answer. There was another knock on the door and he asked again: – Who is it?
The same voice was heard saying: – It is Ephemia, Father.

There was a third knock and the Elder felt someone coming inside his cell and walking through the corridor. He went to the door and there he saw St Ephemia, who had miraculously entered his cell through the locked door and was venerating the icon of the Holy Trinity, which the Elder had placed on the wall of his corridor, on the right hand side of the church’s door. Then the Elder told the saint: Say: Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

St Ephemia clearly repeated those words and immediately Father Paisios knelt and venerated the saint.

Afterwards, they sat and talked for quite a while; he could not specify for how long, as he had lost all sense of time while being with St Ephemia. She gave the solution for all three matters he had been praying for and in the end he said to her: I would like you to tell me how you endured your martyrdom.

The saint replied:
– Father, if I knew back then how eternal life would be and the heavenly beauty the souls enjoy by being next to God, I honestly would have asked for my martyrdom to last for ever, as it was absolutely nothing compared to the gifts of grace of God!


(taken from: http://www.pigizois.net/agglika/paisios/11.htm)

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A Love story

One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. He asked me, “Do you love me?”

I answered, “Of course, God! You are my Lord and Saviour!”

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The Widow’s Offering

Emperor Nicephorus (Botaniates) of Constantinople reigned from 1078 until 1081. He had decided to build a cathedral that would be almost as grand as St. Sophia. When it was ready, the patriarch of Jerusalem, the patriarch of Alexandria as well as the patriarch of Constantinople were all invited to consecrate the beautiful new church built by the emperor. Announcements had been made about the consecration for several months in advance so that everyone would have time to travel to the great city of Constantinople; remember that during that time there were no cars, planes or trains. Continue reading

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The Ascetic and the Thief

There was an ascetic elder and anchorite, who had been leading an ascetic life in a desert place for seventy years, in fasting, chastity and vigil. Although he laboured for God for so many years, he was never accounted worthy to receive a vision or revelation from God. Thinking about this and bearing this in mind he said, “Perhaps my ascesis is not pleasing to God for some reason I do not know, and my work is unacceptable; and on account of this I am not able to receive a revelation or behold any mystery.” Continue reading

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Sunday Homily for 6th Sunday of Matthew – Healing of the Paralyzed Man

6th Sunday of Matthew, Matthew 9: 1-8

I affirm in your presence this day that we’re witnesses of a beautiful miracle this morning: through the living word of the Gospel, we see a paralyzed man who cannot walk on his own, healed of his paralysis by God, He who had made his legs in the first place and given this man his first heart-beat in his mother’s womb. For, as the Psalmist David says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 138). Christ God, as the Logos (Word) of God, through whom all things were made, knew this man and loved this man with a fatherly love even before he was presented to him. Continue reading

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Sunday of the Samaritan Woman – The Courage to Face the Truth

SUNDAY OF THE SAMARITAN WOMAN – John 4: 5-42

Christ is Risen!

It is strangely appealing to define ourselves by our failures, especially when others know that we have stumbled and treat us poorly as a result. As well, our own pride often causes us to lose perspective such that we obsess about how we do not measure up to whatever illusion of perfection we have accepted. People are often their own harshest critics in ways that are not healthy at all. Continue reading

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Trusting God’s Timing

I want to talk to you today about “Trusting God’s Timing.” It is interesting in the New Testament, before Christ would heal someone, often times He would first ask them how long had they been experiencing this difficulty? For example, He asked the crippled man at the pool of Bethsaida, “how long?” The man responded, “for 38 years.” Or the woman who was bent over, she responded, “for 18 years.” Or how about the young man who was blind, his parents responded, “from his birth.”

Why was God so interested in the length of time someone had been ill? Friends, it is because God wanted us to know that no matter what struggles we are facing today, no matter how long we have been in that situation, it is not PERMANENT. St. Paul writes, “for in our light affliction, which will only last a moment, joy is coming in the morning.” Notice, that our struggles will only last a moment and that joy is coming in our way. Why don’t you turn over everything to God. Don’t allow worry, stress, depression to take away the joy of the day. Trust in God knowing that He is constantly at work in your life.

Understand that trusting in God is not having it YOUR way, it is having GOD’s way, and that it is just a “matter of time” in which He will turn that TEST into a TESTIMONY.

Fr. Nicholas Louh


 

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