St. Ignatius and Pig Slaughter

St. Ignatius the Theophorus (“the God Bearer”) is celebrated on December 20. He is believed to have been the infant that Christ took in His arms and given as an example of humility to His Apostles (Matthew 18, 2:4). The name “God Bearer” comes from his testimony in one of his epistles, where he says that he “bears Christ in his heart”. Tradition says that Ignatius was Bishop of Antioch, the third in succession to the bishop’s see, the first one having been the Holy Apostle Peter, and the second one, Evodius, according to testimonies by Eusebius, Origen, and Jerome.

Because he did not want to renounce his faith in Christ, he was thrown into the arena and was torn to death by lions, around 110, during Trajan’s reign (98-117). Parts of his relics are found in the Bishopric in Galati, at the Darvari Skete in Bucharest, and at Tismana Monastery (all in Romania).

Unfortunately, what everyone retains today is solely the pig slaughtering. I don’t know what the origin of that custom is. Some researchers say that this ritual of pig stabbing wasn’t done for the purpose of feeding one’s family, since it reminded of the sacrifices to the gods, who would be “born” and would “die” again during the periods of renewal of the calendar. Which is why on Ignatius’ day, each member of the family would be marked with a cross out of the pig’s blood and it was said that it was good to see blood on that day… Continue reading

About the Mother of God

– We know that you have great respect for the Theotokos, Father; would you please tell us a few words about her.

– Oh, the Mother of God! I’ll tell you this: a young girl, who led a good Christian life and was very earnest in her faith, once addressed herself to the Holy Theotokos: “Holy Mother of God, please show your mother’s love towards me.” – and the Theotokos replied to her: “Show your daughter’s love towards me”. That was her answer. So be the Mother of God’s sons and you will see the results.

Consider the Mother of God’s importance. The Lady of the heavens and earth! What God can do through His power, His Mother can do through her prayer. She stands by every Christian, for anyone who needs her.

There is no prayer, no matter how small – but said from the heart, of course – that the Mother of God does not lend her ear to, that she will not bow to hear.

You see – God sits in the glory of heavens, but He will enjoy dwelling in a Christian’s heart, by descending into it. Let alone the Mother of God! – who is a created being. Have unflinching faith in the Mother of God, every one of you.

Amen.

Fr. Arsenie Papacioc

 

Confessing upon One’s Deathbed

Another case – which was just as frightful – involved a man who was ill and whom we had hosted at our monastery for three days, to attend the Holy Oil service. His wife had told us about some heavy sins that he had done in his life. For three days, we asked him to confess to whatever confessor he wanted – since we had several of them -, gently and patiently explaining to him that God had left us the power to forgive sins through confession. Yet he would not hear about any of that.

On the third day, at night, while we were at the Holy Oil service, he started to howl, literally, all of a sudden, saying that these frightful dark creatures were coming to take him away and that he could see his own sins on them. Extremely terrified, he asked us to confess him right away (now he had become wise). So everyone else left the room where we were and in between shrill moanings, all he could say was: “…I have done… I have done…” and he died in my arms.

I said the forgiveness words more out of a feeling of pity for him, since it had been his last wish – but he was dead. This account was told and retold throughout that region for many years afterwards.

Now THAT is what doubt does – that guilty lack of faith and self-deception which makes one believe that upon one’s death, there will be no demons and no angels coming for your poor soul. What a source of anguish and fear during one’s last minutes on earth, at a time when peace is so necessary! And what things man does not expose himself to, if death takes him by surprise!

Excerpt from “Iată duhovnicul – părintele Arsenie Papacioc” (“Ecce the Confessor – Fr. Arsenie Papacioc“) – volume 2

Martyr Voivode Brâncoveanu

Two hundred and ninety years were commemorated on August 15, 2004 since the martyrdom, in Constantinople, of Constantin Brâncoveanu, Voivode of Wallachia (*southern province of Romania) – together with his four sons: Constantin, Ştefan, Radu, Matei, and his son-in-law, treasurer Ianache Văcărescu -, one of the most terrible tragedies in Romanian history. Having come to the throne in 1688, Constantin Brâncoveanu reigned for over a quarter of a century, leaving behind him, for his nation and Church, numerous religious edifices (among which the Monastery of Hurezi), protecting culture, alongside Metropolitan Antim Ivireanul, and defending Orthodoxy on Romanian, as well as foreign, lands. We will herein try to recall the Martyrdom of the Brâncoveanus. Continue reading

On Deeds and Love

When used without discernment, truth can go as far as murder. Some will act in the name of truth and commit murders. When one has honesty without discernment, one can inflict a double wound: first within oneself and then in others, because that sort of honesty does not have charity. If one wants to be truly honest, s/he should start by being honest with herself/himself, for that is where spiritual honesty starts.

I once asked someone: “What are you? A champion of Christ or a champion of the devil? Do you know that there are such people as champions of the devil?” The Christian must not be fanatical, but have love towards all people. Whoever throws out words without discernment does wrong, even if s/he were right.

Elder Paisios of Mount Athos

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Quand on l’utilise sans discernement, la vérité peut aller jusqu’au crime. Certains agissent au nom de la vérité et commettent des crimes. Quand quelqu’un a de la sincérité sans discernement, le mal qu’il peut faire est double: d’abord, en lui-même et ensuite, dans les autres, parce que cette sincérité-là n’a pas de pitié. Quiconque veut être vraiment sincère doit tout d’abord être sincère envers soi-même, puisque c’est là que la sincérité spirituelle commence.

Il y a quelque temps, j’ai dit à quelqu’un: “Qu’est-ce que tu es? Un combattant du Christ, ou un combattant du diable? Sais-tu qu’il y a des combattants du diable, aussi?” Le chrétien ne doit pas être fanatique, mais plutôt avoir de l’amour pour tout le monde. Celui qui lance des paroles sans discernement fait du mal, même s’il avait raison.

Père Paissios du Mont Athos