Wednesday, 31 July 2013

St. Gregory the Theologian-On The Love of Poverty

It is not at all easy for one to find the highest of all the virtues and to give it the first place and reward, as precisely it is not easy for one to find in a fully blossoming and fragrant field the most beautiful and fragrant flower, as sometimes the one and sometimes the other draws his attention and causes him to cut the first. So thus, I think that good virtues are faith, hope and love. And witnesses of faith are Abraham, who was justified by his faith. Witnesses of hope are Enoch who first supported his hope in the invocation of the Lord, and all the righteous ones, who suffer hardships in the hope of salvation. Witnesses of love, finally, are the Apostle Paul, who reached the point of praying for his own perdition for the sake of his brother Israelites, and God himself, who is named love (1 Jn. 4:8).
Hospitality is good. And witnesses of this are of the righteous Lot, the Sodomite in residence but not a Sodomite in conduct, and of the sinners Rahab, the prostitute in body not prostitute in disposition, who was praised and saved by hospitality (Joshua of Nun 2:1-21).
Longsuffering is good. And witnesses of this are Christ himself, who did not want to use the legions of His angels against His torturers and not only scolded Peter, when he drew his sword, but also the ear, which he had cut, He placed again in its place. Stephen, the disciple of Christ did the same thing later on, who was praying for those who were stoning him.
Meekness is good. And witnesses of this are Moses and David, who above all as meek were witnessed by the Scripture, as also their Teacher, the God-man (Theanthropos) Jesus, who neither argued nor cried out nor shouted in the squares nor resisted those who had captured Him.
Prayer and vigil are good. And a witness of this is the Lord, who before His passion kept vigil and prayed.
Good are purity and virginity. And witnesses of this are both Paul, who instituted them, rewarding justly both marriage and celibacy, as well as Jesus himself, who was born of a Virgin, to honor birth but to prefer virginity.
Good is humble-mindedness. And witnesses of this are many, with the main one again being the Saviour and Lord of all, who was humbled, not only taking on the form of a servant, handing over His face to shame and to the spitting and numbering Himself with the transgressors. He, who cleanses the world of sin, but also washes the feet of His disciples like a servant. Good is non possessiveness and the scorn of money. And witnesses of this are both Zacchaeus, who, as soon as Christ entered his home, distributed almost all his belongings, as well as the Lord Himself again, who, speaking to that rich youth, limited perfection in precisely this thing (Matt. 19:21).
In short, good are vision, good is also action. Vision because it elevates us from the earthly things and leads to the holy of holies and brings back the mind to its original natural condition, and action because it welcomes Christ, serves Him and proves love with the works. Every virtue is also a path which leads to salvation, to one of the eternal and blessed places. Because, as there are many ways of life, thus there also exist many places near God, which are separated and distributed analogous with each one’s action. And let one exercise the one virtue, another the other, another many together and another all of them, if of course this is possible. So long as one proceeds and strives for the highest, following step by step Him who leads him well and guides him and places him, from within the narrow path and gate, to the vast heavenly blessedness.

And if Paul, who also follows Christ, considers love as the first and greatest commandment, as the summary of the law and of the prophets, its better portion I consider to be love for the poor and, in general, compassion and kindness to fellow humans. Because, nothing else pleases God so much and nothing else is as beloved to Him as compassion. She, together with the truth, goes before Him and she must be offered to Him before the Judgment. But also in nothing else is given as recompense by Him, who judges with righteousness and weighs with precision the compassion, as in philanthropy, philanthropy. So to all the poor and to those who for whatsoever reason suffer hardship, we ought to show compassion, according to the commandment: “Partake in the joy of whoever rejoices and in the sadness of whoever is sad” (Rom. 12:15). And we ought to offer to people, as we are also people, the expression of our kindness, when they need it, beaten by some misfortune, for example widowhood or orphanhood or being in a foreign land or harsh bosses or unjust rulers or uncompassionate tax collectors, or murderous thieves or insatiable thieves or the taking away of estates or shipwreck. All are worthy of pity. Everyone sees our hands, as we see God’s hands.
So what will we do, who have been honoured with the great name “Christians” and we comprise the chosen and distinct people who ought to be occupied with good and saving works? What will we disciples of the meek and philanthropic Jesus do, who carried our sins, humbled, taking on our human nature, and he became poor, for us to become rich with divinity? What will we do having before us such a great model of compassion and kindness? Will we overlook our fellow men? Will we scorn them? Will we abandon them? Everything else, my brethren. These don’t suit us, who are nurtured by Christ the good Shepherd, who brings back the wandering sheep and searches to find the lost one and supports the weak one. But they don’t suit neither our human nature, which imposes kindness, since from its weakness itself it learned piety and philanthropy. Why, with all these things, don’t we help our fellow men, while it is still time? Why do we live in enjoyment, whereas our brethren in misfortune? Let me never become rich, if they are deprived! Let me not have health, if I don’t put balsam on their wounds! Let me never become filled, let me never get dressed, let me never be calm in a home, if I don’t give them bread and clothing, as much as I can, and if I don’t give them rest in my home.
Let us entrust all in Christ, to follow Him truly, carrying His cross, for us to ascend to the heavenly world lightly and comfortably, without anything pulling us downwards, and for us to gain in the place of all these Christ, lifted up thanks to our humility and enriched thanks to our poverty. Or, at least, let us share with Christ our belongings, for them to be sanctified somewhat with their correct possession and the offering of a portion of them to the poor.
Won’t we recover, even if late? Won’t we defeat our senselessness, so that I don’t say our stinginess? Won’t we think as humans? Won’t we put mentally in the place of foreign misfortunes our possible misfortunes? Because, truly, none of the human things are certain, nothing is firm, nothing is independent of other factors, and nothing is based on unchangeable presuppositions. Our life turns in a circle, a circle, which brings many changes, often in one day, sometimes in one hour. It is more certain for one to entrust the wind, which moves ceaselessly, it is safer for one to entrust the line, which a seafaring ship leaves on the waters, it is more certain for one to entrust the deceptive dreams of one night, whose enjoyment lasts so little, it is more certain for one to entrust whatever the children trace on the sand, when they play than human happiness.
So they are prudent, who, not having trust in the present things, strive to secure themselves for the future. Because human prosperity is unstable and changing, they love kindness, which is not lost, to gain at least the one of the three: Either the compassion of God, who always benefactors in heaven the pious people for their earthly good works. Or boldness before God because they suffered hardship not for some evil, but for some good purpose. Or, finally, God’s philanthropy, as they first showed philanthropy to the poor, benefiting smartly.
Let the wise person not boast of his wisdom, says the Lord, nor the mighty person for his might. Nor he rich person for his wealth” (Jer.9:23), even if they have reached the highest point of wisdom, might, or wealth. I, though, will add those things also which follow: neither the notable person for his glory nor the strong person for his health nor the handsome person for his beauty nor the young person for his youth nor, in short, no one else for whatsoever else of what is praised in this world and causes pride. But, whoever boasts, only for this let him boast, in that he knows and seeks God, he suffers together with those who are suffering and entrusts his hopes for good things in the future. Because the present goods are passing and temporal. They constantly move and go from the one to the other, like the soccer ball. And there is nothing more certain for the person who possesses them, than that he will lose them in time or out of envy. On the contrary, the future goods are firm and permanent. They are never lost, they never go from the one to the other, they never betray the hopes of whoever trusts in them.
“Who is wise, to understand these things?” (Hos.14:10). Who will be indifferent of ephemeral things and will pay attention to the permanent things? Who will ponder that the present things will pass? Who will consider that the awaited things will remain? Who will distinguish the real from the seeming ones, to follow the former and scorn the latter? Who will distinguish earthly residence from the heavenly lifestyle, the sojourning dwelling from the habitation, the darkness from the light, the mud of the depth from the holy lands, the flesh from the spirit, God from the ruler of the world devil, the shadow of death from eternal life? Who will expiate with the present things the future things, with the corrupt wealth the incorrupt wealth, with the visible the invisible things? So blessed is he who distinguishes these things, separates with the sword of the Word the better from the worse, is elevated with his heart, as the sacred David says somewhere (Psalm 83:6), he leaves with all his strength far from this valley of pain, pursues the goods which are in heaven, is crucified for the world together with Christ, is resurrected together with Christ, ascends to the heavenly habitations together with Christ and becomes an inheritor of true life, which is never altered any more.
Let us follow the Word, let us strive for the heavenly enjoyment, let us be delivered from the earthly estate. Let us hold from the earthly things only whatever is good, let us save our souls with charities, let us give of our belongings to the poor, to become rich in eternal goods. Give something to the soul also, not to the flesh only. Give something to God also, not to the world only. Take something from the belly and give it to the spirit. Take something from the fire, which burns up the earthly things, and take it away from the flame. Grab something from the tyrant and entrust it to the Lord. Give a little to Him, who has offered you the much. Give all of them even to Him who has granted you everything. You will never surpass the generosity of God, even if you give all your belongings, even if you add to these even your own self. Because even the offering of your own self to God is equal with obtaining. No matter how many things you offer, those which remain are more. And you will not give something your own, because you have taken everything from God.
Let us not become, my beloved friends and brethren, evil stewards of the goods which were given us. Let us not strive to treasure and store up things, while others are suffering from hunger. Let us imitate the highest and chief law of God, who sends rain to the just and the unjust and dawns the sun also for everyone. He made the land spacious for all the land animals, He created springs, rivers, forests, air for the birds and waters for the animals which live in the sea, and He gave to all the beings the necessary elements for their life, without limiting them in any authority, without any written law defining them, without borders preventing them. And these elements He gave them common and richly, without distinguishing and being cut off, honoring the similarity of nature with the equality of the gift and showing the wealth of His goodness. People however once they took out from land gold, silver and the precious stones, once they made soft clothes and superfluous and once they obtained other similar things, which comprise causes of wars and revolutions and tyrannical states, were overcome by irrational haughtiness. Thus, they don’t show compassion to their unfortunate fellow humans and don’t want even with their excess to give the necessary things to the others. What vulgarity! What harshness! They don’t think, if not anything else, that poverty and wealth, freedom and slavery and the other similar things appeared in the human race after the fall of the first created beings, like illnesses which appear together with the evil and which are its own inventions. Initially however, things did not happen thus, says the Scripture (Matt. 19:8), but He who created man in the beginning, left him free, with free will restrained only from the law of the command – and rich in the paradise of delight. This freedom and this wealth God wanted to grant -and granted- through the first man, and to the remaining human race. Freedom and wealth were only the keeping of the commandment. True poverty and slavery were its transgression. So after the transgression envies and arguments and the sly tyranny of the devil appeared, which sways everything with the gluttony of pleasure and stirs up the more daring people against the weaker ones. After the transgression, the human race was separated into various races with various names and avarice cut up the nobility of nature, after it also took the law as its helper. You however look at the original unity and equality, not the final division. Not the law which prevailed, but the law of the Creator. Help, as much as you can, nature, honor the former freedom, show respect to yourself, cover the dishonour of your race, assist in illness, help in one’s need.
Let the healthy person console the sick person, the rich person, the poor person, the upright person the fallen person, the joyous person the sad one, the happy one the unfortunate one. Give something to God as a pleasant gift, for that you are one of those who can benefactor and not one of those who has need to be benefacted, for that you are not awaiting help from the hands of others, but of your own hands others are awaiting help. Become rich not only in estate, but also in piety, not only in gold, but also in virtue, or rather only in virtue. Become more honourable than the neighbour by showing more kindness. Become a god for the unfortunate person by imitating God’s compassion. Give something, even slight, to him who has need. Because even the slightest thing is not unimportant for the person who is deprived of everything, but neither also for God, since it is analogous with your capabilities. Instead of a great offering, give your eagerness. And if you don’t have anything, shed tears. Kindness with one’s whole soul is a great medicine for him who is in misfortune. True compassion comforts very much in one’s misfortune. Man doesn’t have less value, than the animal, who, if he is lost or falls in a pit, the law commands you to lift it up and to gather it up (Deut. 22:1-4). How much compassion, consequently, ought we to show to our fellow man, when furthermore even with the irrational animals we ought to be kind? “The Scripture says “Whoever gives charity to a poor person lends to God” (Prov. 19:17). Who won’t accept such a debtor, who, aside from the loan, will also give interest, when the time comes? And elsewhere again he says: “With the charities and with honesty sins are cleansed” (Prov.15:27a).
So let us cleanse ourselves with charity, let us wash with the good herb the filth and our stains, let us become white, others like cotton and others like snow, each one analogous with his compassion. “Blessed”, he says, “whoever shows mercy to others, because God will show them His mercy” (Matt. 5:7). Mercy is underlined in the beatitudes. And elsewhere: “Blessed is he who has compassion on the poor 8 and the deprived person” (Psalm 40:2). And: “A good person is he who has compassion on others and lends to them” (Psalm 111:5). And: “The righteous person always gives charity and lends” (Psalm 36:26). Let us grab the beatitude, let us understand it, let us respond to its calling, let us become good people. Neither let night interrupt your charity. “Don’t say, “Leave now and come again tomorrow for me to give you help” (Prov. 3:28), because from today to tomorrow something may happen, which will put to naught the benefaction. Philanthropy is the only thing which doesn’t take a delay. “Distribute your bread to those who are hungry and put in your home the poor, who don’t have a roof” (Is. 58:7). And do these things with eagerness “Whoever gives charity”, says the apostle, “let us do it with pleasure and sweetness” (Rom. 12:8). With eagerness, your good is considered as double. The charity which happens with distress or by force is ungraceful and tasteless. We should celebrate and not mourn, when we do kindnesses. Maybe you think that philanthropy is not necessary, but voluntary? Maybe you think that it does not comprise a law, but a counsel and urging? I would very much like it if it were thus. And thus I thought of it. But whatever the Scripture says about those who, on the day of Judgment, the Just Judge will place on His left, as a habitation, and He condemns them, scares me (Matt. 25:31-46). They are not condemned because they stole or robbed or were lewd or did whatsoever else of whatever God forbids, but because they didn’t show care for Christ through the unfortunate man.
So while it is time let us visit Christ, let us take care of Him, let us feed Him, let us dress Him, let us gather Him in, let us honor Him. Not only with a meal, like some, not only with myrrh, like Maria, not only with the tomb, like Joseph of Arimathea, not only with burial, like the Christ-loving Nicodemus, not only with gold, incense and myrrh, like the Magi earlier on. But because the Lord of all wants mercy and not sacrifice and because compassion is better than the sacrifice of myriads of well fed lambs, let us offer Him through those who have need, through those who are today in a harsh position, so that they welcome us in the heavenly kingdom, when we leave from this world and go near our Lord, Christ, to whom is due glory unto the ages. Amen.

St. Gregory the Theologian

Τα τέσσερα κεριά ...

Τα τέσσερα κεριά έλιωναν αργά-αργά...

Ο χώρος ήταν τόσο ήσυχος που μπορούσε να ακουστεί η συζήτηση τους.

Το πρώτο έλεγε:
"Εγώ είμαι η ΕΙΡΗΝΗ μα οι άνθρωποι δεν καταφέρνουν να με διατηρήσουν. Πιστεύω οτι δε μου μένει άλλο απο το να συνεχίσω να σβήνω!"

...κι έτσι αφέθηκε σιγά-σιγά να σβήσει ολοκληρωτικά...

Το δεύτερο είπε:

"Εγώ είμαι η ΠΙΣΤΗ. Δυστυχώς δε χρειάζομαι πουθενά. Οι άνθρωποι δε θέλουν να ξέρουν για 'μένα κι έτσι δεν έχει νόημα να παραμείνω αναμμένο".

...μόλις ολοκλήρωσε τα λόγια του, ένα αεράκι φύσηξε πάνω του και το έσβησε...

Πολύ λυπημένο το τρίτο κερί, είπε με τη σειρά του:

"Εγώ είμαι η ΑΓΑΠΗ. Δεν έχω τη δύναμη να συνεχίσω να παραμένω αναμμένο. Οι άνθρωποι δε μου δίνουν σημασία και δεν αντιλαμβάνονται πόσο σημαντικό είμαι. Αυτοί μισούν ακόμη και εκείνους που τους αγαπούν περισσότερο".

...και χωρίς να περιμένει άλλο, το κερί αφέθηκε να σβήσει...

Ξαφνικά ένα μωρό μπήκε στο δωμάτιο και είδε τα τρία κεριά σβηστά. Φοβισμένο απο το μισοσκόταδο είπε:

"Μα τι κάνετε! Πρέπει να μείνετε αναμμένα, εγώ φοβάμαι το σκοτάδι!"...και ξέσπασε σε δάκρυα.

Τότε το τέταρτο κερί είπε με συμπόνοια:

"Μη φοβάσαι καλό μου, μη κλαίς. Όσο θα είμαι εγω αναμμένο θα μπορούμε πάντα να ξαναανάψουμε τα άλλα τρία κεριά...


Με μάτια λαμπερά και γεμάτα δάκρυα, το μωρό πήρε το κερί της ελπίδας και ξανάναψε όλα τα άλλα κεριά..

Ας μη σβήσει ποτέ η ελπίδα μέσα στις καρδιές μας. Και καθένας απο εμάς ας θυμάται (σαν εκείνο το μωρό) να ανάβει ξανά με την ελπίδα την πίστη, την ειρήνη και την αγάπη...

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Ποιά εἶναι ἡ οὐσία τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Παραδόσεώς μας;

 Πατερική Θεολογία
 Πρωτοπρ. Ιωάννου Σ. Ρωμανίδου (+)
Καθηγητού Πανεπιστημίου
Επιμέλεια – Σχόλια: Μοναχού Δαμασκηνού Αγιορείτου
Στοιχεία Ορθοδόξου ανθρωπολογίας και Θεολογίας

Ποιά εἶναι ἡ οὐσία τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Παραδόσεώς μας

Το θέμα τώρα είναι ποια είναι η ουσία της Ορθοδόξου Παραδόσεως. Η Ορθόδοξη παράδοσι προσφέρει μέθοδο θεραπείας του νοός του ανθρώπου, δηλαδή της ψυχής του. Η θεραπεία αυτή έχει δύο φάσεις, όπως είπαμε, τον φωτισμό και την θέωσι. Η θέωσις, δηλαδή η θεοπτία, είναι η εγγύησις της θεραπείας, της πλήρους θεραπείας. Αυτή η θεραπευτική μέθοδος, η θεραπευτική αγωγή, που προσφέρει η Ορθόδοξος παράδοσις, παραδίδεται (εξ ου και παράδοσις) από γενεά σε γενεά με φορείς ανθρώπους, οι οποίοι έφτασαν στον φωτισμό και στην θέωσι και έγιναν θεραπευτές για τους άλλους. Δεν είναι δηλαδή απλή μεταβίβασις γνώσεων από τα βιβλία, αλλά μεταβίβασις και διαδοχή εμπειρίας, της εμπειρίας του φωτισμού και της εμπειρίας της θεώσεως.Παρατηρείται όμως στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη ότι κατάστασι φωτισμού και θεώσεως είχαν μόνο οι Πατριάρχες και οι Προφήτες των Ισραηλιτών. Αυτό είναι ιστορικό φαινόμενο. Πριν από τους Προφήτες έχομε τους Πατριάρχες. Προ του Μωϋσέως έχομε τον Αβραάμ. Διαβάζομε όμως στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη ότι μέχρι τον Αβραάμ υπάρχει συνείδησις της καταστάσεως του φωτισμού και της θεώσεως. Ο ίδιος ο Αβραάμ ήταν θεόπτης, δηλαδή έφθασε σε θέωσι. Αυτό φαίνεται σαφώς. Για την εποχή προ του Αβραάμ πάλι έχομε στοιχεία από την Εβραϊκή Παράδοσι ότι φωτισμός και θέωσις υπήρχαν και στους προπάτορες του Αβραάμ, παραδείγματος χάριν στον Νώε. Η παράδοσις αυτή, του φωτισμού δηλαδή και της θεώσεως, μεταβιβάζεται. Δεν εμφανίζεται έτσι εκ του μηδενός. Δεν εμφανίζεται ξαφνικά τον 11ο ή 12ο π.Χ. αιώνα.

Υπάρχει Καινή Διαθήκη, υπάρχει και Παλαιά Διαθήκη. Στην Καινή Διαθήκη είναι πιο εύκολος ο έλεγχος, διότι είναι περιωρισμένος ο χρόνος διαρκείας της. Η Παλαιά Διαθήκη όμως περιλαμβάνει 1500 χρόνια ιστορίας. Μέσα τώρα σ' αυτήν την περίοδο έχομε μία σπονδυλική στήλη. Αυτή η σπονδυλική στήλη, που είναι η παράδοσις του φωτισμού και της θεώσεως που μεταβιβάσθηκε από Προφήτη σε Προφήτη, είναι και η ουσία της Ορθοδόξου παραδόσεως: Η μεταβίβασις της εμπειρίας του φωτισμού και της θεώσεως από γενεά σε γενεά. Αυτή εκτείνεται στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη χρονικά από τον Αβραάμ μέχρι τον Ιωάννη τον Πρόδρομο. Αυτή είναι η Προφητική παράδοσις, η παράδοσις των Πατριαρχών και των Προφητών.

Αλλά και πριν από αυτήν την περίοδο έχομε την πρώτη περίοδο, που εκτείνεται από τον Αδάμ, μέσω του Νώε, μέχρι τον Αβραάμ. Σήμερα έχει διαπιστωθή αρχαιολογικά η αλήθεια των αναφερομένων ιστορικών γεγονότων στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη τουλάχιστον μέχρι την εποχή του Μωϋσέως. Και σήμερα δεν υπάρχει κανείς, που να αμφισβητή την Παλαιά Διαθήκη ως κείμενο μεγάλης ιστορικής αξίας. Αλλά και πριν από τον Μωϋσέα μέχρι την εποχή του Αβραάμ έχουν βρη οι αρχαιολόγοι στοιχεία, που επαληθεύουν τα αναφερόμενα στην Παλαιά Διαθήκη γύρω από το πρόσωπο του Αβραάμ.

Βλέπομε λοιπόν ότι η ουσία της Ορθοδόξου παραδόσεως δεν είναι το βιβλίο της Αγίας Γραφής, αλλά είναι η μεταβίβασις αυτής της εμπειρίας, του φωτισμού και της θεώσεως διαδοχικά από τον Αδάμ μέχρι των ημερών μας.


Elder Ephraim Kyriakos-Man was created for love

“And God saw that it was good.” Man was created free for the sake of love. He is the link between the Creator and creation. His feet are on the earth and his thought is directed toward heaven. He is body and spirit, manifest and hidden.

Saint Irenaeus says, “God created man so that He could offer him wondrous gifts.” Creation is an act of love from one side, for the sake of communion, exchange, and affection. This initiative invites acceptance or rejection.

Man was created, then, in order to participate in divine love. Contemporary civilization refuses communion with God because it uses creation without reference to the Creator, which causes contemporary man to reject the other.

Rejecting immortality causes man to search for his happiness through earthly possessions. His sin is that he is mistaken about the goal: this is the source of human tragedy.

When man opens his heart to God, the uncreated divine energies grip him from within and change his being without altering his nature, like iron heated in fire, becoming red-hot and glowing: an image of divinization. Man accepts communion with God without becoming a god by nature.

The Christian East always looked to creation for contemplation and giving praise.

The Christian West preferred to consume it. This is a summary of the history of science.

The West, starting in the second millennium, directed itself towards technological activity that caused it to long for “the created rather instead of the Creator.”

“How great are your works, O Lord. In wisdom You made them all.”

From the start, man possesses not only bodily eyes but also spiritual eyes that help him to understand the meanings of the symbols in God’s creation.

All this does not negate the importance of matter, the material of nature, but it causes us to look at it from a different perspective and to deal with it from this perspective.

God is always present in all creation. “Everywhere present and filling all things.” Contemporary scientists have learned, through the examination of particles, that all things are connected to each other.

Man is a microcosm. He is a bridge between earth and heaven, a message of love. Love alone leads to freedom. If man is united, he is able to unite creation, since he leads creation to its creator. He does this through his giving thanks for the blessings he enjoys. With humility he recognizes the Creator’s generous giving.

If a person enjoys this giving thanks and this humility, he comes to be in the image of Christ, the priest of creation, offering everything to God, including the natural environment. In return, God gives him joy and holiness: “Your own of Your own, we offer to you on behalf of all and for all.”

Monday, 29 July 2013

Μία πνευματική ἐμπειρία σέ ἕνα σουβλατζίδικο!

Ανεξίτηλα εντυπωμένη θα  μείνει στην ψυχή μου μία χαριτωμένη και θαυμαστή διήγηση που μου είχε αναφέρει μετά απορίας και δέους ένα νέο και υπερβολικά απλό παιδί ο Κώστας (αγνός πατριώτης τότε, πιστεύω και τώρα, έχω αρκετό χρόνο να τον δώ), πριν καιρό.

Βασανίστηκα αρκετά εδώ και πολλά χρόνια αν θα έπρεπε να την δημοσιεύσω αφού αποτελεί αφ’ενός πολύ προσωπική εμπειρία Χάριτος αλλά και φοβούμενος μήπως κάποιοι παρεξηγήσουν και χλευάσουν το αναφερόμενο γεγονός. Τελικά όμως αποσιωπώντας το επώνυμο του Κώστα τολμώ να  αναφέρω ότι έζησε αυτός ο νέος και ο καθένας ας πεί ότι θέλει.

Ένα απόγευμα, εντός της Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστής και ενώ είχα αποτελέψει το Απόδειπνο ήρθε ο Κώστας για να με χαιρετίσει. Μόλις είχε τελειώσει την δουλειά από ένα κατάστημα κοντά στην Εκκλησία που δούλευε.
-  Πάτερ καλησπέρα, συγνώμη που σας κουράζω αλλά θέλω να μου λύσετε μία απορία.
- Τί ακριβώς;
-  Να ! χθές το απόγευμα  είχα πάει στο σουβλατζίδικο του …. για να φάω νηστίσιμο- ορφανό  όπως τον λένε -γύρο (περιέχει μόνο νηστήσιμα προϊόντα) .
Έκατσα σε ένα τραπέζι μέσα στο σουβλατζίδικο. Μου αρέσουν πολύ τα σουβλάκια αλλά αφού είναι Σαρακοστή δεν μου κάνει καρδιά να αρτυθώ και αφού έτρωγα το ορφανό, ξάφνου μία παράξενη και πρωτόγνωρη δύναμις ένιωσα να με αγκαλιάζει.  Αμέσως στα καλά καθούμενα, χωρίς κάτι εξωτερικά να με επηρεάζει, μία Θεϊκή γαλήνη με σκέπασε  και μου γλύκαινε την ψυχή.
Τέτοια ειρήνη δεν ξαναένοιωσα ποτές μου. Άρχισαν να τρέχουν τότε δάκρυα από τα μάτια μου…δεν μπορούσα να τα κρύψω, και τότε ένοιωσα, σαν μικρό παιδί, να αγαπάω  όλο τον κόσμο.
Σαν να είχα ξαναγεννηθεί…Τέτοιο πράγμα δεν μου ξανασυνέβει στην ζωή μου. Σκέτος Παράδεισος!
Μα μήπως πλανεύομαι Πάτερ; Εγώ δεν γνωρίζω και πολλά γράμματα.  Μεροκαματιάρης είμαι. Εσείς που ξέρετε καλύτερα για πέστε μου, ήταν καλό ή κακό αυτό που έπαθα;

Έμεινα άφωνος. Δεν ήξερα  τι να του απαντήσω!
Πόσο ‘σκανδαλωδώς’ συμπεριφέρεται ο Θεός! Πράγματα που πολλοί γραμματιζούμενοι κάνουν δεκαετίες, και αν, να τα νοιώσουν αυτός ο τρισμακάριος Κώστας με την μακαρία απλότητα κατάφερε να τα βιώσει (Εμπειρία Θείας Χάριτος) μέσα σε ένα απλό σουβλαντζίδικο της γειτονιάς.

-  Τί να σου πω παιδάκι μου; κατάφερα να ψελλίσω. Είδε ο Θεός την θυσία που έκανες, μέσα στην φωλιά του λύκου και των οσμών να δώσεις μαρτυρία πίστης και νηστείας, και φαίνεται συγκινήθηκε. Γι’ αυτό και σου έστειλε ένα χάδι για να το θυμάσαι σε όλη σου την ζωή.
«Τό Πνεύμα όπου θέλει πνεὶ»

Μα αυτός ο ευλογημένος δεν κατάλαβε τί εννοούσα.
Μεροκαματιάρης άνθρωπος …
Μακάριοι οι πτωχοί τω πνεύματι! (Ματθ., ε΄, 3)

Ένας απλός ιερέας



Courage does not consist in defeating and oppressing one's neighbor, for this is overbearingness, which oversteps the bounds of courage. Nor again does it consist in fleeing terrified from the trials that come as a result of practicing the virtues; for this is cowardice and falls short of courage. Courage itself consists in persisting in every good work and in overcoming the passions of soul and body. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, that is, against men, as was the case with the Jews of old, where to conquer other nations was to do the work of God; it is against principalities and powers, that is, against the unseen demons (Ephesians 6:12). He who is victorious conquers spiritually; otherwise he is conquered by the passions. The warfare described in the Old Testament prefigures our spiritual warfare.
These two passions of overbearingness and cowardice, though they appear to be opposites, are both caused by weakness. Overbearingness pulls one upwards and is outwardly something startling and frightening, like some powerless bear, while cowardice flees like a chased dog. No one who suffers from either of these two passions puts his trust in the Lord, and therefore he cannot stand firm in battle, whether he is overbearing or cowardly. But the righteous man is as bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1) in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and dominion throughout the ages. Amen. 

from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, trans., The Philokalia -- vol. III, (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp. 258.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

«Οι άνδρες αγαπάτε τας γυναίκας εαυτών».

Στη συζυγία η αγάπη επιβάλλεται και για ένα ακόμη λόγο, ας πούμε καλύτερα από κάποια ιδιαιτερότητα. Αυτός είναι η φύση της γυναίκας, που αποδεικνύεται ότι είναι γέννημα και προϊόν αγάπης (δημιουργήθηκε από την πλευρά του Αδάμ που ήταν κοντά στο μέρος της καρδιάς) και επομένως δεν ισορροπεί, όταν τη στερείται. Η ίδια πηγάζει αγάπη μέσω της μητρότητάς της και δίκαια απαιτεί να αγαπάται, αφού και η ίδια κατά φύση και θέση αγαπά.
Η ιστορία και τα πράγματα μαρτυρούν ότι αν οι σύζυγοι θέλουν να πετύχουν την αρμονία και την ομαλότητα μεταξύ τους, πρέπει να υπάρχει μόνιμα μεταξύ τους η αγάπη. Ειδικά όμως του άνδρα προς τη γυναίκα του. Αυτό ακριβώς έκανε και ο Χριστός προς την Εκκλησία του. Παρέδωσε τον εαυτό του για να την καταστήσει ένδοξη.
Ο άγιος Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος, αυτός ο μέγιστος ιεράρχης, προκαλεί τον άνδρα να μην κουράζεται να δείχνει στη σύζυγό του την αγάπη του και ότι όλη η θέληση και η προσπάθεια του είναι η ευτυχία της.         
Αυτό, δυστυχώς, πολύ απουσιάζει σήμερα και τα αποτελέσματα είναι απελπιστικά. Η σημασία και η φύση της συζυγίας παραχαράχθηκε από την επίδραση του ευρωπαϊκού κυκεώνα, που τίποτε δε σεβάστηκε από την ανθρώπινη προσωπικότητα και τις πνευματικές και ηθικές αξίες, που οι προγονοί μας με αυτοθυσία κράτησαν.
Επειδή η αύξηση των ανθρώπων γίνεται με τη νόμιμη συζυγία με λύσσα ο αδίστακτος εχθρός του άνθρωπου, ο διάβολος, προσπαθεί να διαλύσει τα ήθη και να καταλύσει το δεσμό της αγάπης και της ενότητας. Το τόσο σοβαρό θέμα του γάμου δεν πρέπει να παραμεληθεί με τις παραχαράξεις του ένοχου και ανώμαλου βίου για να μην ακούσουμε και εμείς, όπως οι παλαιοί αποστάτες των ηθικών αξιών, που αποκήρυξε ο Θεός: «ου μη καταμείνει το πνεύμα μου εν τοις ανθρώποις τούτοις διά το είναι αυτούς σάρκας» (Γέν. 6,3). Και επέφερε τον κατακλυσμό για να τιμωρήσει την αποστασία.
Ο σύζυγος για να πετύχει εύκολα αυτό το ρόλο -ανάλογα με τις περιστάσεις, θα πρέπει να φέρεται στη σύζυγό του άλλοτε σαν πατέρας, άλλοτε σαν αδελφός, άλλοτε σαν φίλος και πάντοτε σαν άνδρας της. Αν το κάνει αυτό θα πετύχει την ατάραχη και αρμονική διάθεση της συζύγου, που ενώ σε πολλά σημεία είναι περισσότερο φιλότιμη και έχει αυτοθυσία, σε μερικά μικρής σημασίας συμβάντα αποθαρρύνεται και μικροψυχεί.         
Δεν είναι υπερβολή ούτε προσποίηση η εκδήλωση αγάπης του συζύγου προς τη γυναίκα του, αφού μόνο στη νόμιμη συζυγία μπορεί να εκδηλωθεί η γνήσια και πραγματική αγάπη, εφ’ όσον «έσονται οι δυο εις σάρκα μίαν». Καμιά άλλη εκδήλωση τρυφερότητας και συμπάθειας δεν μπορεί να παραλληλισθεί με το «έσονται οι δύο εις σάρκα μίαν» της νόμιμης συζυγίας από την οποία προέρχεται η καταβολή της ανθρώπινης ζωής. Άλλωστε και η περιγραφή του γυναικείου φύλου, που είναι και το ασθενές μέρος, απαιτεί την πρακτική του συμπλήρωση από την ανδρική αγάπη και αυτός είναι ο λόγος της ζήλειας που πλεονάζει στη γυναίκα. Ο καλύτερος τρόπος δαμασμού της γυναικείας ζήλειας είναι πρακτικά η γνήσια και έμπρακτη εκδήλωση αγάπης του συζύγου προς τη γυναίκα του.         
Στη γενική διαστροφή που επικράτησε λόγω της αποστασίας από το Θεό «ανένδεκτον του μη ελθείν τα σκάνδαλα» (Λουκ. 17,1). Χρειάζεται πολλή προσοχή στη συγκράτηση του δεσμού της συζυγίας. Να μη λαμβάνονται υπ’ όψιν τα σκάνδαλα, από τα οποία πηγάζουν οι παρεξηγήσεις. Συνιστούμε, ειδικά στον άνδρα, ως την κεφαλή, να μην προδίδει την αγάπη και το σύνδεσμο με τη σύζυγό του, γιατί ο διάβολος και τα όργανά του ουδέποτε θα παύσουν να πολεμούν για να πληγώσουν τη ρίζα της ζωής.
Ένα δείγμα πραγματικής παρηγοριάς και στηριγμού, που μας συμβούλευσαν οι γέροντες σύμβουλοί μας, και των δύο φύλων, για τις δύσκολες ώρες είναι: «Μην ξεχνάτε ποτέ την πρώτη εβδομάδα του γάμου σας». Είστε οι ίδιοι όπως και τότε. Τίποτε δε σας χωρίζει. Υπενθυμίζουμε στους άνδρες το «συνοικούντες κατά γνώσιν, ως ασθενεστέρω σκεύει τω γυναικείω» (Α’ Πέτ. 3,7). Αυτό σημαίνει ότι η παρεκτροπή της συζύγου θεραπεύεται με την αγάπη και την τρυφερότητα, παρά με την επίπληξη και το θυμό. Μην κάνεις παρατήρηση στη σύζυγό σου, σε περίπτωση λάθους, ειδικά την ώρα του πειρασμού και της αιχμής. Εφάρμοσε το λόγο του Δαβίδ: «Εγώ δε ωσεί κωφός ουκ ήκουον, και ωσεί άλαλος ουκ ανοίγων το στόμα αυτού» (Ψαλμ. 37,13). Σε άλλη ώρα, όταν είστε μόνοι σας, μακριά από τα παιδιά, εάν υπάρχουν, πάρε με τρυφερότητα τη σύζυγό σου στην αγκαλιά σου και πες της. «Αγάπη μου, δεν ξέρεις πόσο σε αγαπώ; Εγώ θέλω να είσαι μια αξιοπρεπής κυρία. Αυτό που έκανες δεν σε τιμά».
Τότε μόνο δέχεται το σφάλμα και ζητά συνειδητά συγγνώμη. Αυτά είναι γεννήματα της πείρας. Εάν την ώρα του λάθους η της ζημιάς, την ελέγξεις, θα πεισμώσει, θα ανταπαντήσει, θα μουτρώσει, θα επικαλεσθεί προφάσεις και θα πει ψέματα! Η σύνεση προλαμβάνει, εάν χρησιμοποιηθεί το φάρμακο της αγάπης.                
Η αγάπη προς τη σύζυγο είναι ως προς τον άνδρα και δικαιοσύνη, γιατί το μόνο πρόσωπο που αχώριστα και πρακτικά θα παραμείνει στο πλευρό του είναι η σύζυγός του, αφού όλα τα πρόσωπα του περιβάλλοντός του σιγά-σιγά θα εκλείψουν, ενώ στους ευσεβείς συζύγους η συζυγία συνεχίζεται και στην αιωνιότητα.
Γέροντος Ιωσήφ Βατοπαιδινού, «Συζητήσεις στον Άθωνα». Ψυχωφελή Βατοπαιδινά 13

Saint Theophylact of Ochrid-What Have We to Do with Thee?


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
What Have We to Do with Thee?

Matthew 8:28-9:1

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

28. And when He was come to the other side into the land of the Gergesenes, there met Him two possessed with demons, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. While the men in the boat were yet wondering what manner of man this was that even the winds and the sea obeyed Him, the demons come to proclaim the answer. Although Mark and Luke speak of one man who was possessed by a legion of demons (Mk. 5:9, Lk. 8:27), understand that this one man was one of the two mentioned by Matthew, evidently, the more notorious of the two. Jesus came alone towards them, since no one dared to bring them to Him, so fierce were they. They dwelt among the tombs because the demons wish to inspire the belief that the souls of those who have died become demons. Let no one believe this: for when the soul departs from a man, it does not wander about the earth. For the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God (Wis. of Sol. 3:1), and the souls of sinners are also led away, as was the soul of the rich man, Lazarus.
29. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God? Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time? Behold, they proclaim Him to be the Son of God, but first they declare their enmity. The demons consider it torment to be prevented from harming men. Understand the demons' words, before the time, to mean that they thought that Christ, not enduring their great wickedness, would not wait for the time of their punishment. But this is not so; the demons are permitted to contend with us until the end of the world.
30-32. And there was a good way off from them a herd of many swine grazing. So the demons besought Him, saying, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine. The demons asked this so that they could drown the swine, and thus the owners would be grieved and would not welcome Christ. Christ granted the demons their request in order to show how great is their bitterness towards men, and that if they had the power, and were not prevented as they are by God, they would do worse things to us than they did to the swine. For God protects those possessed by demons so that they do not kill themselves.
32-34. And, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to those possessed of the demons. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw Him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their region. The inhabitants of the city begged Jesus to leave because they were grieved and thought that they would suffer something worse thereafter. You, O reader, learn that where there is swinish life, it is not Christ Who dwells there, but demons.
1-2. And He entered into a boat, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. His own city means Capernaum, for it was there that He was living. He was born in Bethlehem, raised in Nazareth, and lived for an extended length of time in Capernaum.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh-Calling of the Apostles

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

It is essential for us to realise the link there is between Christ and the apostles. <...> If you read the Gospels you will see that the apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ were born and lived in the same area. Christ came to live in Nazareth as a child; the apostles lived all about the place of His abode. We know nothing about the early years of these men, but if we think that Cana of Galilee was less than 4 miles away from Nazareth, if we think that all the cities and all the villages in which Peter and Andrew, John and James and others lived were around the same place, we can imagine that they had met and seen and heard the Lord Jesus Christ as a child, as a youth.
We know nothing about the impact of His personality growing harmoniously into the fullness of His human stature, but links of personal knowledge and familiarity existed. The disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew and John, were the disciples of a cousin of the Lord. James was the brother of John, Peter was the brother of Andrew. When they first met Christ, they sought out their friends Nathanael and Phillip. Even the words of Nathanael ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ is not a mysterious saying. What would any one of us say if he was told that God Himself had become man in a village four miles away from his own village?

And then there is a whole process which we can trace in the Gospels in which one can see how, gradually, the disciples discover the Lord Jesus Christ, how He becomes gradually more and more to them. And one day their relatedness to Him is such that they could not leave Him even if they wanted to. When most of Christ’s disciples abandoned Him the Lord said to the Twelve: ‘Are you also going to go?’ And Peter answers: ‘Where should we go? Thou hast the word of eternal life’. This relatedness between the disciples and Christ that began perhaps in friendship, then in admiration grew to the relationship of disciples and Master, on the way to Caesarea Philippi becomes a recognition, proclaimed by one of them as a gift of God, of what He truly is: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God’.
It is a relationship so deep, so perfect and complete that they cannot leave Him even if terror comes upon them. When Christ tells His disciples that He is going to Bethany because Lazarus has died, His disciples say: ‘Are you going back into Judaea? Were not the Jews about to kill you?’ And one of them says, ‘Let us go with Him and die with Him’. And that one is Thomas, the one who so often is thought as a doubter. No, he is not a doubter. He is ready to live and to die with his Master, but he is not prepared credulously to receive the news of Christ’s Resurrection with all its resurrecting impact and life-giving power without being sure — because when Christ died on the cross His disciples scattered, afraid, in hiding, and yet, attached to Him with all the fibres of their heart and mind and soul, they felt that life had gone out of the world, life had gone out of their lives. That happens to us when someone who is infinitely dear dies. Then we discover that because this person has died everything which is shallow, trivial, small, too small to be as great as life and death, becomes irrelevant. We turn away from it, we become as great as our perception of life and death can make us.
That is what happened to them, but then there was no life, there was only crushing, destructive death. They could no longer live because life had gone out of their lives, but they could continue to exist. And all of a sudden they discovered that Christ was alive and that they could live and, more than this, that in a mysterious way because they had died so deeply and completely through love and oneness with Him, they could, through love and oneness — both His and theirs — be alive, but alive with an unshaking certainty that no death can deprive them of life any more, no kind of death; death was defeated. This is what we sing at Easter, this is what we proclaim as the Gospel. Life has triumphed, death has no power over us. Our body has no power to kill us when it dies. This is one of the essential witnesses of the apostles: not simply that they are so faithful in their love for Christ that they are prepared to die, but that they are so certain from inner certainty, from the welling up of eternity within them, from the victory within them of the life of Christ, that death is no more. One can peacefully let go of temporariness, as St Paul says. For him death does not mean divesting himself of temporary life, it means to be clad with eternity, eternity fulfilled, what it was incipiently, germinally, fighting for the fulfilment in what he calls his body of corruption.

Ἡ μητέρα του ἔδειξε τό δρόμο τῆς σωτηρίας

Στις δώδεκα τα μεσάνυχτα, χτύπησαν την πόρτα στην Εκκλησία. Ήταν μια γριούλα. Και ζητούσε παπά, να πάει να κοινωνήσει έναν άρρωστο.Ο παπάς ετοιμάστηκε και βγήκε αμέσως μαζί της. Πλησιάζουν σε ένα φτωχό σπιτάκι, τύπου παράγκας. Η γριούλα ανοίγει την πόρτα και μπάζει τον ιερέα σε ένα δωμάτιο.

Και να ξαφνικά ο παπάς ευρίσκεται εκεί μόνος με τον άρρωστο.
Ο άρρωστος του δείχνει με χειρονομίες την πόρτα και σκούζει.
- Φύγε από εδώ! Ποιος σε κάλεσε; Εγώ είμαι άθεος. Και άθεος θα πεθάνω.
Ο παπάς τα έχασε.
- Μα δεν ήλθα από μόνος μου! Με κάλεσε η γριά!
- Ποια γριά; Εγώ δεν ξέρω καμιά γριά!
Ο παπάς, καθώς στέκει απέναντί του, βλέπει επάνω από το κεφάλι του αρρώστου, μια φωτογραφία με την γυναίκα πού τον κάλεσε.
Του λέει, ενώ του δείχνει το πορτραίτο.
- Να αυτή!
- Ποια αυτή, ξέρεις, τί λες, παπά; Αυτή είναι η μάνα μου. Και έχει πεθάνει χρόνια τώρα!
Για μια στιγμή πάγωσαν και οι δύο. Αισθάνθηκαν δέος. Ο άρρωστος άρχισε να κλαίει. Και αφού έκλαψε, ζήτησε να εξομολογηθεί. Και μετά, κοινώνησε.
Η μητέρα του είχε φροντίσει από τον ουρανό, να του δείξει τον δρόμο της σωτηρίας.

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Person of Christ and the Style of Icons

Protopresbyter Stamatios Skliris

 From: A Mystery Great and Wondrous, Athens, Byzantine and Christian Museum.
Exhibition of Icons and Ecclesiastical Treasures 28 May - 31 July 2001.

The Jubilee celebrations and indeed the present Exhibition present opportunities for deliberation on the Person of Christ, the truly 'mysterious stranger' in man's midst. Here we shall concern ourselves chiefly with evaluating the contribution of Christians to art, through the worship and veneration of the Theanthropos. That is, the fact that a special style derived from the worship of Christ.

The Person of Christ, as experienced in the Orthodox East, played a very specific historical role. Instead of creating primarily a theory of the cosmos, a philosophical or ethical system, it was lived and experienced par excellence as the Church, as the Eucharistic congregation. As a gathering of believers in a particular place and at a specific time to celebrate the Eucharist, to constitute in unison the people of God, the Body of Christ that draws its identity from the eschatological expectation of the Resurrected Christ and his kingdom. The Person of Christ influenced art in this way; as a living presence of Christ within the Eucharist and as a painted narration of this event on the walls of the liturgical space within which the Eucharist took place. It is thus worth investigating this specific phenomenon, what new impetus this special congregation of men gave to painting, in the way that it lived and experienced Christ through time and depicted him in icons. An evaluation such as this would also show indirectly the significance of this exhibition of icons and treasures of the Church of Greece, as well as help us to understand and appraise the exhibits better.

The particular artistic characteristics of icons
Historically Christian painting began as a branch of Hellenistic and Roman art. Quickly, however, it showed a propensity towards developing a peculiar and particular figurative imagery, which was due to the new content of life brought by the eucharistic experience of Christ in the life of believers. This change in the content and purpose of life not only brought new pictorial subjects over the pagan ones, but also formed a new artistic language. This singularity was expressed visually through the following special characteristics:

1. Light plays the principal role in the icon, no longer as natural light that is governed by the law of rectilinear diffusion, but as a metaphysical light that is free from obligatory obedience to physical laws. It is a light that illumines uniformly and centrally both the whole and the parts, while at the same time cancelling the cast shadows (the shadows of the bodies which fall on the ground or on other bodies).
2. Colours are by definition bright or at least have bright reflections and rays.
3. Perspective is virtually overturned and things distant come close to the viewer.
4. Light and shade are differentiated. They exist on the parts, but not in the naturalistic manner in which a whole body can be in shadow while others can be in an area of light. All the bodies depicted and all the parts are illumined by a centripetal light, light that falls centrally on each part and pushes the shadow to the edge.
5. The figures are weightless and stand on the tips of their toes, as if dancing. The manner of lighting and the manner of drawing contribute to this effect.
6. Plasticity takes another form, appearing in a manner that is crystalline, prismatic, cubist.
7. The landscape is painted like a miniature of the composition as a whole. It functions decoratively and its strong colours impart a jubilant character even when it frames sad subjects.
8. The face, which basically continues the Hellenistic tradition of portraiture, is simplified and acquires abstract features. The drawing alludes to ancient red-figure vases with spare, clear, elegant lines and the modelling enhances its volumes with fine white lines, the highlights. The highlights create the impression that the face shines with a light similar to that of the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor. This element in conjunction with intensity of the gaze give the viewer the impression that the Christ depicted is not an ordinary person represented at an ordinary moment, but a unique person whom the venerator of the icon beholds at a unique moment, in which he comes into a unique relationship with him, which surpasses time and death.

These characteristics constitute the definitive difference between Christian and other painting, with regard to the stylistic manipulations of the image. And they represent the birth of a truly new manner of painting. For the Italian Renaissance constitutes a re-nascence of old ancient Greek pagan manners and not the birth of a radically new style. The Christians of the first centuries put 'new wine' (new Christian subjects) in 'new flasks' (new style). Later, after the thirteenth century, the Western version of Christian art appeared, which lost the special characteristics mentioned above. But in the East too these characteristics were altered somewhat from the fifteenth century. They became more severe and standardized, losing their joyous character and freedom of drawing, coloration and expression, yet gaining something else, the mystagogy and unction of icons during the period of Ottoman rule in Greece ('Cretan School').

The originality of icons
Although the repetition of iconographic models and the believers' demand for immediately recognizable images led to a relative standardization, in all the phases of the development of iconography originality is encountered. It is this originality that enables us to classify icons chronologically. Originality is achieved through the light, which expresses a remarkable freedom. This freedom is due to the authenticity of the ecclesiastical liturgical experience of Christ lived by believers.

For believers Jesus is not simply a man, but the corporeal bearer of all the fullness of divinity. This uncreated, divine dimension of the Theanthropos evoked the astonishment experienced by the Apostles on Mount Tabor during the Transfiguration. There they saw the wholly new man, the man no one had set eyes upon before. Not simply because he had the qualities of other men to a greater degree, but because, as uncreated, he transcended the definition of the qualities.

In order for us to comprehend the originality of Divine Grace, it is essential that we understand the distinction between created and uncreated, on which the Fathers of the Church insisted. Created means created by God, that which is subject to the natural laws and is known through its qualities. Uncreated is the divine, which is not plasma but source of creation; that which becomes known through revelation and which always evokes astonishment, because it introduces to the created the freedom from physical laws. The uncreated, whenever it is lived by the saints, always evokes astonishment and is always original, simply because, by definition, it transcends the human experience of created beings. Whereas all human experiences at some time grow old, because at some time we become psychologically familiar with them, the experience of the uncreated Grace is always something ontologically new, which evokes astonishment each time. If the Apostles had witnessed ten Transfigurations, the sense of astonishment and originality they experienced on Mount Tabor would never grow old. Just as the heavenly hosts praise god eternally, not out of duty nor by observing a liturgical ceremonial, but through an authentic sense of ecstasy towards the uncreated majesty that surpasses every created experience, so the authentic experience of Christ lived within the Church is a continuously original experience as far as the physical qualities are concerned and indescribable as far as physical descriptions are concerned. This is why icon-painters of all periods (except the present) render the Person of Christ in a manner which is on the one hand recognizable to believers and in accordance with tradition, yet on the other hand has always the uniqueness and the originality of the uncreated, as far as it is humanly possible to render these. Today, unfortunately, the model and ideal for icon-painters is how they will imitate the Christ painted by Panselinos or Theophanis, and not how they will render in an authentic manner the Theanthropos and the astonishment he should evoke in the believer. Thus they age and debase the eternally renewing message of Christ, which is the hope of the world, and deprive him of the eschatological vision of paradise.

The theology of the originality of the Person of Christ has not been emphasized sufficiently, even though it is Taborian, hesychastic and consequently radically Orthodox. It is frequently obscured by a conception of tradition as repetition of known and not original things. The fact frequently escapes us that the liturgical repetition of the same ceremonial and the insistence on the tradition of the past, in order to avoid the error of heresy (things absolutely essential for the life in Christ), are no more than the trappings of Love. But Love itself is ecstasy. We forget that author of the Icon of Christ is the Love of the Church to its Bridegroom and not historical and anthropological research. This freedom of Byzantine painting, which emerges from the authenticity and originality we have mentioned, can be identified in the following points:

1. In the way in which Christian art utilized borrowings from Antiquity. It kept the transcendence, the beauty and many pagan elements, boldly and fearlessly, so long as they served its needs. And concurrently, with equal daring and freedom, it doubted canons of measurements and proportions distinctive of art, and introduced an unprecedented surrealism, aimed at expressing the resurrected, the uncreated, the supernatural, that which was beyond measurement.
2. In the originality with which the Byzantines painted, so that nowhere in their art is there the dichotomy between the Byzantine and the naturalistic pictorial conception of the world.
3. In the free and fertile conception of tradition, in contrast to the sterile and timorous traditionalism of today. Tradition is seen not just as what was handed down from the past as an irrevocable total of parts, but as what was handed down to us, with special emphasis on the us, as the managers of tradition here and now, with self-awareness and self-motivation. That is, the future of tradition depends on us, who do not take from tradition ready-made solutions to emerging problems, but are inspired by the experience and the criteria of tradition, to find new and specific solutions to specific problems.
4. In the eschatological priority over historical accuracy, which inspired them to paint the Crucified Christ with the eschatological inscription: O ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΗΣ ΔΟΞΗΣ (KING OF GLORY) rather than with the historical legend: Ο ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ ΤΩΝ ΙΟΥΔΑΙΩΝ (KING OF ΤΗΕ JEWS).
5. In the anachronisms in the imagery, which are due to the authenticity of the experience. The icon-painter lives the events of the Divine Economy, which he paints with such familiarity that he dresses Christ in a chiton and a himation (and not Jewish garments), he presents him in front of Hellenistic buildings and not Hebrew tents, and he equips the soldiers who arrest him with Byzantine armour and weapons, not Roman.
6. Specifically in the imagery of the Person of Christ, we see the freedom in the diverse depictions, different from each other, which intervened until the Byzantine type of Christ was elaborated; such as initially the beardless youth, then the soldier with short beard and hair gathered behind, or with long beard and loosened hair.

The differences in style
In order to understand better this sustainable originality and freedom, it is worth examining some icons of Christ, characteristic of the era and of the creators, in which we shall try to identify the changes in style from period to period.

1. Encaustic icon of Christ. Sinai,6th century (Cat. no. 52). Here the Christian painter, employing the technique and expression of the Fayum portraits, gives a new solution with the dynamism of the Person of Christ. This is no longer the funerary portrait with the sorrow in the face of death, but the portrait of a completely new man, who triumphs over death. This is expressed through the light of the face and the expression of the eyes, which gaze upon us full of love and mercy. Christ does not behold us with the sadness of the suffering fellow mortal, but with the redemptive and salvationary love of the victor over death.
2. Icon of Christ in egg tempera. Sinai,11th century. The painter perceives Christ as a person entirely in light. The participation of light alters him, distances him from the naturalism of the encaustic Christ and endows him with the transcendence of the uncreated light, which suffuses the portrait in a manner that does not follow the naturalistic linear diffusion of light.
3. Mosaic icon of Christ. Berlin Museum, 12th century. The era of the Comneni endeavoured to express the Resurrection and the transcendence of death through a special style, based essentially on wavy lines. The rhythmical mobility that these undulations impart to the icon is artistically tantamount to eternal life.
4. Wall-painting of Christ, work of Panselinos, Protaton, Mt Athos, 14th century. Panselinos and Byzantine painting of the fourteenth century compose two things, humanism and hesychasm. The natural light that illumines the Person of Christ becomes simultaneously a visual language that reveals the participation of the
Divine Light. Concurrently, the expression of the eyes shows all the philanthropy and mercy of a God who became man out of love for man.
5. Icon of Christ. Monastery of Stavronikita, Mt Athos,16th century. The Cretan School presents the portrait of the completely new man through the mystagogical contrast between the strongly illumined and the deeply shadowed parts of the face.

It is clear that the Byzantine icon-painters did not believe that the Mystery of Christ was expressed hapax in the first icon and that they were bound henceforth to copy faithfully this one and only 'accurate' rendering of the portrait, as if it were the true photograph that constitutes the model for all periods. For them the Mystery of the Person of the Theanthropos was unspoken. Thus they attempted to depict the Theanthropos precisely to show his ecstatic, original and unrepeated character in relation to the other persons, who were created. It is this eschatological theology concerning Christ that is the source of the style of the holy icons, with all its details as discussed above.

The exhibition of icons and keimelia of the Church of Greece held in the Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens. on the occasion of the Jubilee, tried to show this 'mysterious stranger' in all his aspects, in works in various materials and techniques, as well as of different periods of ecclesiastical history. Revealing is the unity and cohesion of this tradition and the parallel variety and singularity of each work and each creator.

Τὶ εἶναι ἡ Ὀρθόδοξη Γυναίκα,Ἀπαντήσεις γόνιμες καί εὔστοχες.

Στοὺς χρόνους τῆς Παλαιᾶς Διαθήκης καὶ ἰδίως στὸν εἰδωλολατρικὸ κόσμο oi γυναῖκες ἦσαν – ἐκτὸς λίγων ἐξαιρέσεων -πολὺ χαμηλῆς κοινωνικῆς θέσεως καὶ σὲ μιὰ κατηγορία ἀνάλογη μὲ αὐτὴ τῶν δούλων καὶ τῶν σκλάβων. Ἀκόμη καὶ στὴν Παλαιὰ Διαθήκη ὑπῆρχεν ἡ πολυγαμία καὶ οἱ παλλακίδες. Τὸ μήνυμα ὅμως τοῦ Χριστοῦ τὰ ἄλλαξε αὐτά. Στὰ δικά του μάτια ὅλες oi ψυχὲς ἦταν ἴσες ἀσχέτως ἐξωτερικῶν διαφορῶν φυλῆς, χρώματος, ἡλικίας, θέσεως, φύλου. Οἱ γυναῖκες ἦταν ἀπὸ τοὺς πρώτους καὶ πιὸ ἀφοσιωμένους ἀκόλουθους τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Οἱ γυναῖκες ποτὲ δὲν ἐγκατέλειψαν τὸν Χριστό. Στὸν Χριστιανισμὸ ὑπάρχουν μερικὲς γυναῖκες Ἁγίες ποὺ τιμοῦνται ὡς «Ἰσαπόστολοι». Ἔρχονται ἀμέσως στὸ μυαλὸ τὰ ὀνόματα τῶν Ἁγίων Μαρίας Μαγδαληνῆς, Θέκλας, Ἑλένης κλπ. Ὁ Χριστὸς λοιπὸν ἄνοιξε ἕνα ἄλλο κόσμο. Ἡ ζωὴ ἀφιερώθηκε στὸν Θεό, γεμάτη σημασία καὶ νόημα. Στοὺς πρώτους μετὰ Χριστὸν αἰῶνες, οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἀνεχώρησαν πνευματικὰ καὶ σωματικὰ στὶς κατακόμβες.

Οἱ σημερινὲς γυναῖκες μποροῦν νὰ πάρουν πνευματικὴ δύναμη μὲ τὸ νὰ μιμηθοῦν τὴν πνευματικὴ ζωὴ στὶς παλιὲς κατακόμβες.

Αὐτὸ θὰ τις προετοιμάσει γιὰ τὶς ὑλικὲς κατακόμβες ποὺ εἶναι ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς ἀναβίωσης τῆς εἰδωλολατρείας στὴν σημερινὴ κοινωνία.

Τὸ πνεῦμα τῶν κατακομβῶν ἦταν μία ζωὴ ὁλοκληρωτικὰ ἀφιερωμένη στὸν Θεό, ποὺ βρῆκε τὴν ἔκφρασή της στὸν λειτουργικὸ κύκλο τῶν ἀκολουθιῶν ποὺ γινόταν κατὰ τὴν διάρκεια τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τῆς νύχτας.

Τρέφονταν ἐπιπλέον ἀπὸ τὴν ζωὴ τῶν μαρτύρων ποὺ ἦταν τότε μία ζωντανὴ πραγματικότητα. Σὲ ἕνα κόσμο ποὺ μισοῦσε τὸν Χριστὸ οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ βρῆκαν ἐλπίδα στὸ νὰ ζοῦν καὶ νὰ πεθαίνουν γιὰ τὸν Χριστό. Αὐτὴ ἡ ἀτμόσφαιρα ποὺ ἐνέπνεε μιὰ ζωὴ ὄχι ἀνάλογη μὲ τὸ κοσμικὸ ρεῦμα ἔχει χαθεῖ σήμερα. Ὅταν ἐλευθερώθηκε ὁ Χριστιανισμὸς μετὰ τὸ Διάταγμα τῶν Μεδιολάνων τὸ 311 μ.Χ. οἱ χριστιανοὶ ἄφησαν τὶς κατακόμβες ἀλλὰ μαζὶ ἔχασαν τὸν φόβο τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ χαλάρωσαν στὴν πνευματικὴ ζωή.

Αὐτοὶ ποὺ χρειάζονταν τὸν Θεὸ πήγαιναν στὴν ἔρημο νὰ ζήσουν μιὰν ἐν Χριστῷ ζωὴ χωρὶς περισπασμούς.

Περίπου τὸν ἴδιο καιρὸ ἄρχισε ἡ αἵρεση τοῦ χιλιασμοῦ.

Σύμφωνα μὲ αὐτὴ τὴν αἵρεση (ἀκόμη καὶ σήμερα ὑπάρχει) θὰ ὑπάρξει μία χιλιετὴς – στὴν κυριολεξία – βασιλεία τοῦ Χριστοῦ πάνω στὴν γῆ.

Οἱ χιλιαστὲς εἶναι ἀνίκανοι νὰ καταλάβουν τὴν ἰδέα πὼς ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, μία πνευματικὴ βασιλεία, εἶναι ἤδη ἐδῶ μέσα σὲ κάθε πιστό. (Τὰ χίλια χρόνια εἶναι ὁ καιρὸς τώρα ὅταν ἡ Χάρις τοῦ Θεοῦ χύνεται φανερὰ στὸν κόσμο μέσα ἀπὸ τὰ σωτήρια μυστήρια τῆς Ἐκκλησίας τοῦ Χριστοῦ πάνω στὴν γῆ).

Ἐγίναμε γιὰ τὸν Θεό, γιὰ νὰ γίνουμε κοσμήματα λάμποντας ἀπὸ πνευματικὴ λάμψη στὸν οὐρανό, ἀφοῦ στιλβωθοῦμε μὲ τοὺς ἀγῶνες μας σ’ αὐτὴ τὴν ζωή.

Ἕνας βασικὸς τρόπος γιὰ νὰ πετύχουμε αὐτὸ τὸ στίλβωμα εἶναι μέσῳ τοῦ ἀσκητισμοῦ (πειθαρχίας) βασισμένου πάνω στὴν ἀγάπη γιὰ τὸν Θεό. Αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ βάση γιὰ χριστιανικὴ ζωή. Στὸ σύγχρονο κόσμο οἱ στόχοι μας καὶ οἱ φιλοδοξίες μας ὡς Ὀρθόδοξων Χριστιανῶν πρέπει νὰ εἶναι οἱ ἴδιοι ὅπως τῶν πρώτων χριστιανῶν στοὺς χρόνους τῶν Κατακομβῶν.

Ὅταν ὑπάρχει πραγματικὸς διωγμὸς οἱ χριστιανοὶ ζοῦν σὲ πνευματικὲς καὶ κάποτε ὑλικὲς κατακόμβες.

Ἔτσι ἡ σύζυγος ἑνὸς ἱερέα ἦταν σὲ θέση νὰ προσφέρει παραπάνω γιὰ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους παρὰ ὁ ἴδιος ὁ ἱερέας ποὺ ἔπρεπε νὰ ζεῖ κρυμμένος. Αὐτὴ βοηθοῦσε τοὺς φτωχούς, τοὺς προετοίμαζε νὰ συναντηθοῦν μὲ τὸν ἱερέα καὶ γενικὰ ὀργάνωνε τὴν ἐνορία οὕτως ὥστε οἱ ἄνθρωποι νὰ ἔχουν εὐκολία στὸ νὰ πλησιάσουν τὰ Μυστήρια καὶ τὴν πνευματικὴ καθοδήγηση ὅσο ἦταν δυνατό. Στὸν Δυτικὸ κόσμο ὅπως καὶ κάτω ἀπὸ τὸν Κομμουνισμὸ ὁ καθένας διψᾶ γιὰ τὸν Θεὸ καὶ πρέπει ὅλοι νὰ προσφέρουμε αὐτὸ ποὺ μποροῦμε. Πρέπει νὰ βροῦμε μιὰ φιλοσοφία τῆς ζωῆς γιὰ νὰ ἀντιμετωπίσουμε τὴν σημερινὴ νεο-ειδωλολατρία ποὺ δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ μᾶς προσφέρει συγκεκριμένες ἀπαντήσεις ἤ ἕνα ἀληθινὸ σύστημα ἀξιῶν.

Οἱ Χριστιανοὶ δὲν πρέπει νὰ ντρέπονται γιὰ τὸ παρελθόν τους καὶ τὶς ἀξίες τους. Ἰδιαιτέρως δέ, δὲν πρέπει νὰ συμβαδίζουν μὲ τὸν μοντέρνο κόσμο καὶ τὴν ἐξάρτησή του ἀπὸ τὴν ἀνθρώπινη λογική.

Ἔτσι τὸ πρωταρχικὸν καθῆκον μιᾶς Χριστιανῆς μητέρας εἶναι νὰ σώσει τὰ παιδιά της ἀπὸ τὸν κοσμοκράτορα Διάβολο.

Τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἐποχῆς δὲν εἶναι τυχαῖο. Ὁ Διάβολος ἐμπνέει μόδες, γοῦστα καὶ φαντασιοπληξίες τόσο στὴν καθημερινὴ ζωὴ ὅσο καὶ στὸν «διανοούμενο» κόσμο.

Ἐπιπλέον ὁ Χριστιανισμὸς πεθαίνει σὰν πολιτιστικὴ βάση τῆς κοινωνίας μας. Τώρα εἴμαστε περικυκλωμένοι ἀπὸ ἕνα νεοειδωλολατρισμὸ πολὺ χειρότερο ἀπὸ αὐτὸν τοῦ παρελθόντος, διότι τώρα ὑπάρχει μία συνειδητὴ ἀπομάκρυνση ἀπὸ τὸν Χριστό. Ἀκόμη καὶ τὰ σχολεῖα ἔχουν ἐπηρεασθεῖ. Προσπαθοῦν νὰ διώξουν τὶς Χριστιανικὲς ἰδέες ἐνῶ ἀντιθέτως προωθοῦν τὸν χιλιασμό, τὴν ἰδέα ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἶναι βασικὰ καλός. Γιὰ νὰ μεγαλώσει τὸ πρόβλημα οἱ γονεῖς δὲν εἶναι βαθειὰ ριζωμένοι στὴν Ὀρθοδοξία καὶ δὲν ἀπορροφοῦν δύναμη ἀπὸ Ὀρθόδοξες πηγές. Εἴμαστε στὸ ἔλεος τῶν δαιμόνων τοῦ σύγχρονου κόσμου διότι δὲν ζοῦμε μία συνειδητὴ Ὀρθόδοξη ζωή. Οἱ προσύλητοι ὑπόκεινται σὲ ἰδιαίτερους πειρασμούς. Μερικοὶ νομίζουν ὅτι ἀπὸ τὴν στιγμὴ ποὺ βαπτίζονται ἀποκτοῦν αὐτόματα ἁγιότητα καὶ εἶναι ἔκτοτε «ἀμόλυντοι». Ἄλλοι χρησιμοποιοῦν τοὺς πνευματικοὺς πατέρες γιὰ νὰ «ἀναβοσβήνουν» τὴν πνευματικότητά τους μέσῳ μιᾶς τυφλῆς ὑπακοῆς. Ἄλλοι ἀκόμη, ἀρχίζουν νὰ ἀποστατοῦν καὶ νὰ ἀποθαρρύνονται μὲ τὴν πνευματική τους προοδο μπορεῖ μάλιστα νὰ χάσουν κάθε ἐνδιαφέρον. Ἄλλοι γυρίζουν στὸν ἐθνικισμὸ σὰν ἕνα ὑποκατάστατο τοῦ πνευματικοῦ ἀγώνα. Γιὰ νὰ τὰ ἀντιμετωπίσουμε ὅλα αὐτὰ πρέπει νὰ γίνουμε ἀνεξάρτητοι Χριστιανοί. Μὲ αὐτὸ δὲν ἐννοοῦμε ἀνεξαρτησία ἀπὸ τὴν Ἐκκλησία, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον μιὰ προσωπικὴ εὐθύνη καὶ ἀποφασιστικότητα νὰ ζήσουμε Ὀρθόδοξη Χριστανικὴ ζωὴ ὅσο ἀκριβὰ καὶ ἐὰν αὐτὸ κοστίσει.

Αὐτὸ εἶναι πολὺ σημαντικὸ διότι στὸ μέλλον ὅλες οἱ ὀργανωμένες ἐκκλησίες καὶ τὰ ἐπίσημα σχολεῖα θὰ ὑπηρετοῦν τὸν Ἀντίχριστο. Ἐν τούτοις ὀ,τιδήποτε καὶ ἐὰν συμβεῖ ἀνήκουμε στὸν Χριστὸ καὶ αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ χαρὰ τῆς ὑπάρξεώς μας. Καὶ ἔτσι ἐρχόμαστε στὸ θέμα τῆς φιλοσοφίας μιᾶς Ὀρθόδοξης γυναίκας καὶ τοῦ σκοποῦ τῆς ζωῆς της στὸν κόσμο.

Πρῶτα πρέπει νὰ θυμηθοῦμε πὼς ὁ γάμος ὅπως τὸν ξέρουμε εἶναι ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς πτώσεως τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Πρὶν τὴν πτώση δὲν ὑπῆρχε διαφθορὰ ἤ θάνατος. Μετὰ τὴν πτώση ὁ ἄνδρας διατάχθηκε νὰ καλλιεργεῖ τὴν γῆ γιὰ τὴν τροφή του καὶ στὴ γυναίκα τέθηκε τὸ φορτίο νὰ γεννᾶ παιδιὰ μὲ «θλίψη καὶ πόνο».

Δὲν μποροῦμε νὰ ξέρουμε τώρα τὸ ἀρχικὸ σχέδιο τοῦ Θεοῦ γιὰ νὰ οἰκήσει τὴν γῆ, ἀλλὰ οἱ Ἅγιοι Πατέρες μᾶς λέγουν πὼς δὲν θὰ ἦταν μὲ τὴν γεννητικὴ πράξη.

Ὁ μεγάλος σκοπὸς τοῦ γάμου ἦταν νὰ φέρουν στὸν κόσμο παιδιὰ ποὺ φέρουν τὴν εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἔτσι ὁ οἰκογενειακὸς προγραμματισμὸς γιὰ ὑλικοὺς καὶ ἐγωιστικοὺς σκοποὺς εἶναι ἀντιχριστιανικός. Στὸν ἁγιασμὸ τοῦ γάμου ἡ Ἐκκλησία καλεῖ τὸ ζεῦγος νὰ γίνει «μία σάρξ». Συνεπῶς ὁ ἕνας δὲν θὰ πρέπει νὰ ἐπιβάλλει τὴν δύναμή του πάνω στὸν ἄλλον. Γι’ αὐτὸ ὁ γάμος γίνεται μέσον γιὰ τὴν ἐπίτευξη τῆς σωτηρίας. Καθὼς οἱ ἄνθρωποι βρίσκουν εὐχαρίστηση στὴν ἐρωτικὴ πράξη, τὸ φυσικὸ ἀποτέλεσμα εἶναι τὰ παιδιά. Ἔτσι ἐπίσης ἡ Ἐκκλησία μᾶς διδάσκει νὰ περιορίζουμε τὶς γενετήσιές μας ὁρμὲς καθὼς ἐπίσης καὶ τὴν λαιμαργία μας. Ἡ κοινὴ ἰδέα σήμερα τοῦ νὰ μὴν ἀποχτοῦν παιδιὰ εἶναι ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς φιληδονίας καὶ τῆς φιλαυτίας. Τὸ νὰ ἀποφασίσεις νὰ ἀπολαύσεις τὴν ἐρωτικὴ πράξη καὶ μὲ τεχνητὸ τρόπο νὰ σχεδιάσεις νὰ μὴν ἀποχτήσεις καθόλου παιδιά, εἶναι τὸ νὰ κάνεις τὴν ἐρωτικὴ πράξη μία θυσία στὸν διάβολο. Ἀκόμη προδίδει μία ἔλλειψη ἀγάπης καὶ ἐμπιστοσύνης στὸν Θεό.

Ὁ γάμος δὲν γίνεται – ὅπως τόσο συχνὰ νομίζεται – γιὰ τὴν εὐτυχία τῶν συζύγων καὶ τῆς οἰκογενείας, ἀλλὰ γιὰ τὴν σωτηρία τῶν ψυχῶν τους καὶ τὴν ἀνατροφὴ τῶν παιδιῶν τους στὴν ἁγιότητα.

Ἡ τελετὴ τοῦ γάμου μᾶς προσφέρει ἕνα ἐξυψωμένο ἰδανικὸ διότι ἡ μητρότητα σύμφωνα μὲ τὴν φύση δὲν εἶναι ἁγία, ἀλλὰ γίνεται μόνο ὅταν ἡ μητέρα ἀγωνίζεται νὰ ἀναθρέψει τὰ παιδιά της μὲ ἀγάπη καὶ φόβο Θεοῦ. Ἀφοῦ οἱ Προτεστάντες στεροῦνται ἐνεργοῦ ἐκδήλωσης ἀγάπης στὶς σχέσεις τους, πολλοὶ ἄνθρωποι – ἰδίως ἄνδρες -ντρέπονται νὰ ἐκδηλώσουν τὴν ἀγάπη τους γιὰ τοὺς γιούς τους. Ἕνας πατέρας πρέπει νὰ ἐπέμβει κατὰ τὴν ἐφηβεία τοῦ γιοῦ του γιὰ νὰ ἀποτρέψει αὐτὴ τὴ στέρηση ἀγάπης. Αὐτὸ ἐπίσης εἶναι μεγάλης σημασίας γιὰ τὶς κόρες διότι θὰ μεγαλώσουν καὶ θὰ δώσουν ζωὴ καὶ θὰ πρέπει νὰ εἶναι ἐφοδιασμένες γιὰ νὰ ἐμφυσήσουν ἁγιότητα στὰ παιδιά τους καὶ νὰ τοὺς ἐμπνεύσουν ἀγάπη γιὰ τὸν Θεό. Ἂν δὲν ἀγαπηθοῦν τὰ παιδιὰ ἀπὸ τὴν σύλληψή τους θὰ εἶναι πάντα πεινασμένα γιὰ ἀγάπη. Τὸ διαζύγιο εἶναι ἐπίσης ἀποτέλεσμα τῆς αἱρέσεως τοῦ χιλιασμοῦ – ἡ ἰδέα ὅτι μπορεῖ νὰ τελειοποιηθεῖ ἡ ζωὴ πάνω στὴν γῆ. Ἔτσι οἱ ἄνθρωποι ἀναζητοῦν «εὐτυχία» καὶ «ἀγάπη» στὸν γάμο, ἀλλὰ δὲν μποροῦν νὰ τὴν βροῦν διότι αὐτὸ ποὺ ἀναζητοῦν εἶναι μία γήινη ἀγάπη. Τέλος τὸ νὰ διαλέξει ἕνας νὰ μὴν παντρευτεῖ μπορεῖ νὰ συνδέεται μὲ τὸν ἐγωισμό. Ὁ Μοναχισμὸς εἶναι μία πολὺ ὑψηλὴ κλήση διότι εἶναι τὸ νὰ ζεῖς γιὰ τὸ Θεό. Αὐτὸ δὲν σημαίνει ὅτι ὅλοι ποὺ δὲν παντρεύονται ἤ εἰσέρχονται στὴν μοναχικὴ ζωὴ ζοῦν ἀντίθετα μὲ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἀλλὰ τέτοιοι ἄνθρωποι πρέπει νὰ ἔχουν ἰδιαιτέρως ὑπ’ ὄψιν ὅτι προσπαθοῦν νὰ ζήσουν ὄχι γιὰ τὸν ἑαυτὸ τους ἀλλὰ γιὰ τὸν Θεό. Ἔτσι ἡ ἐκλογὴ τοῦ δρόμου τῆς ζωῆς πρέπει νὰ ὑπαγορεύεται ἀπὸ κίνητρο τοῦ πῶς νὰ εὐχαριστήσουν τὸν Θεὸ παρὰ τὸν ἑαυτό τους. Πραγματικὰ ὅλοι μας πρέπει νὰ ἀφιερώσουμε τὴν ζωή μας στὸν Θεό. Καὶ μέσω τῆς ζωῆς μας πρέπει νὰ ἀγωνιζόμαστε νὰ ἀγαποῦμε τὸν Θεό μας καὶ νὰ ἐκτελοῦμε τὸ θέλημά Του μέσα στοὺς ἀνθρώπους. Ἡ φιλοσοφία τῆς ζωῆς μας πρέπει νὰ εἶναι βασισμένη στὴν ταπείνωση καὶ στὴν παραδοχὴ τοῦ γεγονότος ὅτι δὲν μποροῦμε νὰ τὰ ξέρουμε ὅλα. Παρὰ τὴν ὑπόσχεση τοῦ ὄφεως δὲν μποροῦμε «νὰ γίνουμε Θεοί».

Ἡ δυστυχία ξεκινᾶ ἀπὸ τὴν ἀπουσία τοῦ Θεοῦ. Τὸ καθῆκον καὶ ἡ χαρὰ μας εἶναι νὰ ἀγαποῦμε τὸν Θεὸ ὑπεράνω ὅλων, νὰ μετανοοῦμε καὶ νὰ ἀγωνιζόμαστε κατὰ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν μας γιὰ νὰ ζοῦμε μία ζωὴ σύμφωνα μὲ τὸν Χριστό. Διότι ἐὰν ὁ κόσμος δημιουργήθηκε γιὰ τὸν ἄνθρωπο, ὁ ἄνθρωπος δημιουργήθηκε γιὰ τὸν Θεὸ -γιὰ νὰ ἀποκτήσει θέα κάποιου ἄλλου κόσμου – ποὺ ἡ ὀμορφιὰ του ἀντικατοπτρίζεται στὴν ἁγία Ὀρθοδοξία.

Joung S. (Ὀρθόδοξη Μοναχή)
Μετάφραση: Τάσος Τελεβάντος, Βιοχημικὸς
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...