Thursday, February 25, 2021

Elder Simon Arvanitis and the Greek-American Woman Who Had Trouble Giving Birth

On the left is Monk Zosimas (+2010) with Elder Simon (+1988) on his deathbed blessing the child of a spiritual child of his.

By Monk Zosimas,
A Disciple of Elder Simon Arvanitis

A woman who lived in the United States, and who was a spiritual child of Elder Simon Arvanitis, was pregnant.

When the time came for her to give birth, the child was unable to come out, and she in her pain cried out to her Elder [who was in Greece at the time]:

"Father Simon, Father Simon, I can't give birth! I'm suffering and in a lot of pain!"

Elder Eumenios Saridakis and the Tiger at the London Zoo

By Monk Simon

When Father Eumenios Saridakis with a group of his spiritual children visited the London Zoological Gardens, the Elder found himself to be in front of an Indian tiger, which was acting very wildly. It was jumping up and down behind the wire netting, roaring, and everyone stood back at a distance.

Orthodoxy is a Dramatic Mystery (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Churches, shrines, chapels, icons, candles, processions, priests, bells, monasteries, travelling preachers, every day's saints, fast seasons—everything is the repetition of the same idea, namely, that Christ is the ruler of life and we are His followers. Christ must be expressed everywhere, indoors and outdoors. Many Englishmen have remarked that the Bible is read very seldom in the home in Russia and Serbia. That is true. People read the Bible more in symbols, pictures and signs, in music and prayers, than in the Book. Our religion is not a book religion, not even a learned religion. It is a dramatic mystery. The Bible contains the words, but in this dramatic mystery there is something higher and deeper than words. Slav Christianity is something greater than the Bible. Looking at an icon, a Russian mujik perceives the Bible incarnated in a saint's life-drama. Mystery of sin, mystery of atonement, mystery of heroic suffering, mystery of the daily presence of Christ among us in holy wine, in holy bread, in holy water, in holy word, in holy deed, in every sanctified substance, even in matter as in spirit, mystery of communion of sins and of virtues—all are recorded once in the Bible, and all are recorded and repeated also in our daily life—that is what we call our Slav Orthodoxy. We take the mystic outlines of the Bible and do not care about the details. In those mystic outlines we put our daily life, with its details of sins and sufferings. We conceive the Christian religion neither so juristic as the Roman Catholics, nor so scientific as the Protestants, nor even so reasonable and practical as the Anglicans, but we conceive it rather as dramatic.

From the book The Religious Spirit of the Slavs, 1916.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The Heart is at Fault


By Demetrios Panagopoulos (1916-1982),

In the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Publican beat his breast and not his head, as if he was saying: "My heart is at fault."

It is wrong, therefore, what many say: "My head is to blame."

Your head is not to blame. Your heart is to blame!

God does not dwell in people's brains, but in their hearts. However, when Christ does not dwell in the heart, the devil will dwell there, and will make the brains of people dizzy, and then people will do what they do.

The Half-Blind Old Monk and the Flowerless Rose Bush

Nikos Gabriel Pentzikes (1908-1993) is a well-known Greek painter who first visited Mount Athos in 1933, the first of his 94 visits throughout his life, and it was there that he learned to paint and changed his occupation from being a pharmacist to a painter. In his book Approaches to the Holy Mountain (Προσεγγίσεις στο Αγιον Ορος, 1952), he wrote the following:

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