We are afraid of losing our pitiful psychological and physical comfort, hanging on to the sufferance we keep complaining about, which, if it weren’t for God’s mercy, would change into that “gnashing of teeth” that we would be left with after having rejected His gift until the end.
We are afraid of losing what we have and what we seem to be, by refusing to believe that it is precisely these riches and views that separate us from the Joy to which we are called…
Yet what a miracle that God has put pain inside us, which keeps calling out to us, is always there on our Way, and does not allow us to miss out on our becoming!
What do you think about the trivialities that are proffered about and that some claim to be poetry? Do you think that this can be called poetry?
– No. I think that is the sign of an anomaly – I don’t know if an intellectual one, though. I’m afraid it is more serious than that. Ever since Freud, a mutation has been produced: sex has taken the place of mind. That is the saddest thing of all. You see, there used to be this decency about the Romanian people. You would not say certain words – they weren’t taboos but there was a certain modesty about them. Now, the word ”decency” has all but disappeared from our dictionaries. I have no preconceptions at all, but the way in which we conduct ourselves kills beauty. ”Our bodies are God’s temples”, said Apostle Paul. What do we do with them? We expose them like any other piece of flesh. It’s terrible. It is also terrible to see what has happened to the relationships between men and women. In my opinion, a crime has been done there. The thrill of the first meeting, the love, the anticipation of marriage – all that has disappeared. What is happening to us? We used to be a country of God-fearing peasantry. In the villages, these good habits are still maintained. People there are not haunted by the passion of the exposed flesh. They don’t use bad words and that is good. The Saviour is within us, He is the uncreated Light, and we nail Him to the Cross with every bad or dirty word we say. Continue reading
When we try to teach our children about God and we can’t seem to find the right words, let us not insist too much on explaining; rather, let ourselves be inspired by God and by the child’s very mind, because we will be able to help our children not only through our words about God, but also by simply dwelling in Him. One can talk about God without necessarily mentioning His name.
The best educational methods make it a point, above all, to teach children how to learn. There is a saying that goes: “Give your son a fish and he will eat fine today. But teach him how to use a fishing rod and he will eat well all his life.” It is in the same way that we should look upon our role as Christian parents and educators. Let us inspire our children the love for God, whilst showing them at the same time how to find out for themselves God’s will. If we teach children to love God and his Saints, then “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
In the Christian families (especially in priests’ families), children suffer sometimes from what we might call an “indigestion”, because of an excessive talking about God and churchly matters. It is possible for these children to continue to listen to such conversations out of mere politeness, but we can see and feel that they are no longer interested in hearing people talk about God, that they’ve had enough of the topic. In school, during religion classes, when we notice great differences between children, depending on their ability and willingness to learn about God, we can cause them great spiritual harm if we don’t address every one of them according to his/her ability to understand. Let us try to inspire their interest but without forcing them. Each child may be more spiritually receptive in some moments than in others.
Mother Magdalena – excerpt from “Sfaturi pentru o educatie ortodoxă a copiilor de azi” (“Advice for an Orthodox Education of Today’s Children”)
Mother Arsenya of Russia
As to fasting and its importance, Mother Arsenya used to say: “Many learned people of our times say that fasting and all the other churchly rules are just some empty rituals, a mere appearance that leads to nothing. For my part, the more my life passes on, the more I am convinced that all the rules that have been established by the Holy Fathers are the greatest gift that God has given us and that they all bring salvation due to the Grace that lies in them. Scholars say: «All of these are trifles; it is the truths of the Gospels that matter.»”
Yet I am telling you that it is impossible to know and gain an insight into the truths of the Gospels directly, by avoiding the rules of the Church and neglecting them. It is only through them that we are led to the high truths of Christ’s teachings. When we talk about fasting, we talk about refraining from eating much and from doing anything that lacks measure, in order to render our bodies lighter, thinner, and apt for spiritual feelings.