Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Need for Confession and the Eucharist

By Fr. Ilarion Argatu 
 Those who have lived away from the Holy Church and have not confessed and taken the Eucharist for years on end will see that once they decide to come back to it, they have trouble standing in the church, because of the evil spirits who have now come to live inside them. Thus, during the Holy Liturgy, these people don’t feel well, they feel sick, they are weak to the point of fainting, some of them tremble, others fall to the ground and flap around, some bark, meow, bellow, or moo. The bad spirits that dwell in man do so.
If you had confessed and taken the Eucharist often, you wouldn’t have gone through this. That is what happens when you stay away from God for several years. Now that you come back to church, the devils set obstacles in your way and try to frighten you by this torment, so that you will give up and go home. You must have a strong will and stay. They are not allowed to kill you; they only torment you in an attempt to take you out of the church and make you give up attending it. After confessing – and taking the Eucharist – you will calm down and the nausea and trembling will disappear. The evil spirits have to leave you. Upon your next confession, you will not go through this or in any event, your troubles will be lesser. Then with every Eucharist, you will get better and better.
Only when a person goes through these things herself/himself, does s/he know how it actually feels.
At home, when you go about your house chores, these devils will work against everything you want to do. You pick up the detergent box – it will topple and spill off powder all over the floor. You want to sew – your sewing thread will get knotted. You want to cook something – the oil bottle will topple. You want to sleep – as soon as you have fallen asleep, a noise will wake you up, as if someone had dropped a ping-pong ball in the room, or some other kind of noise. So – they don’t let you rest. You fall back asleep, the noise repeats. You go to buy your groceries – everything is nice and calm just until you’re the next in line. When it’s your turn to buy, someone just before you pops up, annoys the vendor, then they start fighting. When the vendor finally serves you, s/he places before you the worst goods.
You go to work: here, it’s like no one has enough room because of you, everybody gives you the bad eye.
If you’re a young lady and a young man comes up with his parents to ask you to marry him, but with no apparent reason, they suddenly become restless and act like they’re your enemies and leave nervously and agitated because of you. And so on and so forth – the devils stand against everything you want to do. Your life is a permanent torment; it’s hell on earth.
In order to get rid of the devils, you do this:
-          general confession with a sincere and repenting heart, plus Eucharist; plus you don’t miss any Liturgy;
-          every day, you take holy bread and holy water, every time that your body is clean*;
-          day and evening prayers, plus black fasting on Friday, until midnight;
-          keep all the fasts established by the Church**, throughout the year, and confess and take the Eucharist during all four of them. The canon given by your priest upon confession must be observed as accurately as possible.

Fr. Alexandru Argatu – “Vă sfătuieste Arhimandritul Ilarion Argatu” (“Father Ilarion Argatu Advises You”)

The Argumentative Man, according to Saint Simeon New Theologian

 Saint Simeon The New Theologian
A man given to argument becomes his own double-edged sword; he destroys his soul, without knowing it, alienating it to the Kingdom of Heaven. An argumentative man deliberately gives himself to his king's enemies. His argument is a fishing line baited with some veracity -- defense of truth, self-justification, self-defense -- that reels him into swallowing the hook of sin. Then evil spirits can ravish his poor soul, hooked both by tongue and throat. Now rising upwards, now sinking in the chaotic abyss of sin, his argumentative soul is condemned, with those souls cast down from heaven.
A man who is deeply wounded in his heart by provocative and abusive argument harbors deep inside himself the old serpent of sin. If he bears the blows of argument in silence or answers with great humility, he will render this serpent powerless (or he will kill it altogether). But if he argues with bitterness or speaks with arrogance, he will give the serpent added strength to pour more poison into his heart and to devour his entrails mercilessly. By gaining strength daily, the serpent will finally eat away the intention and capability of the poor man's soul to mend its way of life. Thereafter, the man will live for sin and be deadened to the truth
With prayers and tears, implore God to give you a saintly instructor, free from passions. Study also the Holy Scriptures, especially the practical writings of the Holy Fathers, in order to compare them with what you are being taught by your teacher and preceptor. Thus will you see, as in a mirror, how far they agree. Keep in your thoughts what corresponds to the holy writings. And after wise deliberation, put aside what does not correspond, lest you fall into sin.
Increasing knowledge of God lessens interest in all else. The more a man knows of God, the less he cares for other matters. And he begins to know more and more clearly that he knows so little of God. The more radiantly God shines in such a man's spirit, the more He becomes invisible, and the more a man's sense soars above his senses, the less he needs to sense externals.

Saint Simeon The New Theologian.
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