Friday, January 23, 2009

On Thoughts--St. Nikolai Velimirovich

About the most all-discerning Prophet [Jesus]

"Why do you harbor evil thoughts in your hearts" (St. Matthew 9:4).

When our Lord deigned to direct a rebuke to the Pharisees and Scribes, at that time, they had not killed anyone, nor had they deceived anyone, nor had they looted anyone and, not only that, at that time, they had not even offended anyone by their words. Why then, did our Lord admonish them when they had not committed any sin neither in works nor in words? Why? Because, at that time, their thoughts were evil.

An evil thought is sin! That is the great news which Christ brought into the world. In truth, an evil thought is the sinful source of all sin because, before a man says something or does something sinful, he thinks sinfully. Thought is the causative sin. All other sins are only subsequent sins. Whoever wishes to annihilate those evil actions must uproot those evil thoughts first. Whoever desires to stem the flow of water must first dry up the source. Therefore, let no one justify himself: I am not a sinner, for I have not killed anyone nor looted from anyone nor profaned anyone nor lied to anyone! Behold, we are full of deadly looting, profaning and deceiving thoughts! If we have not committed sin by our own deeds, that is simply a matter of the mercy of God and external circumstances. But, if God had yielded and if the circumstances were favorable, we would have committed all those sins that we had thought. The serpent is not only venomous when it bites but also when it does not bite, because it carries the venom in itself.

Therefore, not only is thought a sin, but also it is the source of sin: the beginning of sin and the seed and root of sin. That is why the All-seeing and All-knowing Lord rebuked those who had evil thoughts. "Why do you harbor evil thoughts in your hearts."

O Lord, All-seeing and All-knowing, help us to cleanse our hearts and minds from evil thoughts so that our words and deeds may be pure.

[From the Prolog reading of the day--January 24]

Monday, January 19, 2009

Check it out!

Not sure if this is legally online or not, but I found a book on tape that has really impacted me a lot! Many of you have probably heard of or read Fr. Arseny, but this website has his book on tape! PLEASE “read”/listen to it if you have not already. And if you have LISTEN AGAIN! If anyone has any favorite quotes etc, please feel free to post.

(note: not necessarily promoting the website itself...just this book :)).


Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Forgot About This One...

In my last entry (written earlier tonight) I forgot to mention a truly unforgettable moment in my time here thus far, which, in fact, happened JUST TODAY! But before I mention this, let me share something very quickly. This is from the Akathist of Thanksgiving (or “Glory to God for All Things”). The full version can be found HERE:

“Glory to Thee, ceaselessly watching over me, Glory to Thee for the encounters Thou dost arrange for me, Glory to Thee for the love parents ,for the faithfulness of friend, Glory ot Thee for the humbleness of the animals which serve me, Glory to Thee for the unforgettable moments of life, Glory to Thee for the heart’s innocent joy, Glory to Thee for the joy of living, Moving and being able to return Thy love, Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age.”

It was the “Glory to Thee for the unforgettable moments of life” line that I was reading tonight that reminded me to recount this particular unforgettable moment to all of the beloved ones:

Today and yesterday (or the day before...can’t remember), during the break in the midst of my language class, my friends and I went out for something to eat. On our way back, especially today, we noticed an incredible site in the sky: There were thousands (I truly don’t think this is an exaggeration) of what looked like small sparrows, or some form of small bird, flying in beautiful synchronization under the grayish blue winter sky. We saw them in the distance creating various shapes in the sky. First it was a giant oval, then it swooped into a winding river that vanished into a perfect point in the distance, then it oscillated like the waves of the ocean, and then they all turned back on themselves and the mass of flying wings (which looked more like dots in the distance) grew darker and darker as they became more and more concentrated in one area. We were like little children watching this site. My friend and I could not contain our excitement as the birds swooped one way and the other. At each movement our hearts also moved, the power and majesty of this group of birds together was beyond words. How clear and crisp their black silhouettes appeared, framed by the light sky. How perfectly they followed one another in a geometrically amazing manner. How could they know to turn left and right, to swoop up and down in perfect union? I was absolutely shocked.

But then the best moment came.

After the birds, as if sucked by a vacuum, swooped down into ONE TREE (Imagine THOUSANDS OF BIRDS SWOOPING ONTO ONE TREE), they suddenly sprang up, as if on command, as if they were water bursting from a fountain and fanned out into the afternoon sky. Only this time, instead of remaining off in the distance as some beautiful, but foreign, site, they began to rush towards us. The excitement within my chest was hard to take, I wanted to jump with exuberance and exhilaration. The infinite mass of winged dots suddenly became a canopy over our heads. The world was so different for that instant. We had been invaded by tiny birds, but together they created such an impression of power, might and unity! And then they retreated and they became, again, a picture in the distance, the beauty still there but our participation limited.

I recount this as clearly as I can. I have not tried to insert any metaphors or hidden lessons. If anything sounds like a metaphor then most likely they come directly from the experience and not my interpretation (although I might have subconsciously inserted some of my own). Anyway, I think (hope) you get somewhat of a picture of this, or if you have seen such a sight, you know what I mean.

Glory to God for the beauty of His Creation!

with love,

Back from America!

Dear Family and Friends,

Χρόνια Πολλά! Καλή Χρονιά!

Hopefully this latest update finds all beloved friends and family in good health and invigorated upon the beginning of this new year! Love to all! Forgive me for not being more up to date than I have. I recently returned from the states where I spent 2.5 weeks both at home with family and friends (for Christmas) and at the OCF College Conference and at the Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration (Ellwood City, PA). What a restful and joyous time with loved ones! Anyone who has spent any period of time out of their native country (longer than a vacation) knows that it is often strange to return and experience culture shock all over again. The strangest sensation, I think, was walking down the street and every time I heard someone speaking English my heart jumped...only to remember that, yes, English is spoken quite often in America, and no, I shouldnt even consider approaching them and asking them where they are from and what they are doing in Greece...although I’m sure it would be quite entertaining. Needless to say my journey back from the states was also quite unusual. I suppose it had something to do with the fact that my initial departure to Greece had been very final. But this “vacation” back home, as it were, mixed a lot of human identities up in my mind...all of which, in the end, if used correctly can bring us back to the fact that HOME cannot be found, ultimately, in human terms. Another useful lesson to store away :).

The last few days have been quite rainy and cold in Thessaloniki--not a postcard season for sure. Life is good, however. Classes are progressing. Things are sounding less and less foreign...more second nature reactions and nice people throughout.

Not too much else to report on this end of things! Love to hear reports from you though! If you’d like to do so...please feel free: :).

Love to all,