January 27, 2014

Contemporary Man and the Spiritual Life

On Thursday, 23 January 2014, over 600 people filled a room at Eleon Loft in Athens to hear a lecture by the Abbot of the Sacred Monastery of Vatopaidi, Elder Ephraim, on the topic "Contemporary Man and the Spiritual Life".

Among those in attendance were His Eminence Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Dodona, party members, community leaders, clergy, monastics, students and many people.

After opening with a prayer, he said among other things the following:

"All of us who live in the contemporary world justify everything and live as we see fit. We do not live the true spiritual life, and we do not like to follow the commands of the Church."

"We often see that we do not accept the things of the Church, as many do not confess and continuously postpone it and do not approach it."

"If we keep the commandments of God, the Grace of the Holy Spirit will come into our hearts. Only then will our lives have meaning, because then the soul tastes God."

"Though we are in the Church, we do not like to follow the rules of the Church. It is a fashion among youth. This cannot be however. If you are an employee in a service, and say that you do not follow the rules, you will be dismissed from service. Anyone who wants to be in the Church keeps the commandments. The commandments are not a catalogue which help you become a moralist, but essentially it is a mystery. If you keep the commandments you receive Divine Grace. As Elder Paisios would say, the Church has one treasure, her experience, and the heart of man can taste this experience."

"Holiness is the key that unlocks the Gospel, which is why the Holy Fathers interpreted it. Enter into the spirit of the Fathers, then read the Gospels. If we follow the Saints, we will follow the safe path towards salvation."

"Delusion often mimics grace, which is why we need true fathers, not those who work miracles but those who have discernment of spirits. Such discerning fathers we need to lean on."

"Saint Porphyrios always said that only within the Church did he find Grace."

"People today do not pray and the Holy Spirit is absent from their lives."

"We become spiritually weak when we do not pray."

"Unfortunately for some, sanctity, or for one to become a saint, is only something that is written about."

"People commit suicide because there is no inner strength, which is what is offered by the Church."

"Today atheism is in fashion."

"Greece was injured by communism, but not ruled by it like Serbia and Russia. We are the capital of Orthodoxy, which is why the Greeks should always rejoice they are Orthodox Christians."

"It is a great thing to accept the Church, to follow the liturgical program of the Church, to be convinced of the orders of the Holy Fathers."

"The soul is healthy when it craves God."

"Monks feed on the taste of Divine Grace and the fruits of the Holy Spirit."

"Freedom is not going where you want to go or doing what you want to do. Freedom is to be free from the passions. One is free who knows Christ."

At the end of the lecture, Elder Ephraim and Metropolitan Chrysostomos cut the vasilopita and distributed it to the people.

Sources: Here and Here. Translations by John Sanidopoulos.