My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True Lord, God, and Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
By Saint Porphyrios
How to Pray: Preparation
Saint Porphyrios would say that, in order for prayer to occur, we must situate ourselves in the proper environment. The Lord HImself will teach us how to pray. Another Elder Panagis from Cyprus, another enlightened Elder used to say, “Before a light can be switched on, proper electrical equipment must be installed beforehand.” This prior “installation,” meaning the requirements for proper prayer, included: 1) PREPARATORY PRAYER FOR PRAYER, 2) THAT WE ASK THE LORD TO GRANT TEARS, 3) THE USE OF INCENSE, 4) CANDLES, 5) HESYCHIA [QUIET OR STILLNESS], 6) THE LACK OF WORRY, 7) STUDY, 8) ISOLATION FROM EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING, 9) THE VIGIL LAMP, 10) JOY, 11) COMPLETE DEPENDENCE UPON GOD, AND 12) COMPLETE OFFERING TO THE LORD.
Saint Porphyrios would say that we must bring to mind beautiful images, preparing our soul for prayer. Additionally, reading and chanting with love and divine eros helps us. This is our own humble advice, as to how we can embark upon true prayer, which in the end, only Our Lord can grant. This is wy, during the Divine Liturgy, we ask that God enlighten us: “Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure Light of Your Divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we my comprehend the message of Your Gospel.”
How We ought to Pray
PRAYER must occur with longing, contrition, divinie erros (love), tears, and above all with HUMILITY. Saint Porphyrios emphasized our need to come to love Christ. We will achieve this when our prayer becomes CONTRITE, accompanied with tears (which we will ask from Him through preparatory prayer), when we pray with SIMPLICITY, CONTRITION, AND WITH THE FEELING THAT WE ARE UNWORTHY TO BE GRANTED DIVINE GRACE. We must pray, the Saint advised, with FERVOR, WITH A SUPPLICATORY TONE, but above all, WITH AFFECTION–in the same manner by which we speak to our loved ones. Our offering to the Lord should occur with longing, without improper emphasis and intonation… without a dry tone, but with PATIENCE, WITH JOYFULNESS, WITH ANTICIPATION AND HOPE, WITH FAITH, AND WITH HESYCHIA (STILLNESS). Our words are to possess SWEETNESS, desire for our Christ, and divine eros (love): “My Jesus, my Christ…” We ought to pray mentally FROM WITHIN, BUT SOMETIMES AUDIBLY, while maintaining full understanding that we can achieve NOTHING WITHOUT HIM.
PRAYER is according to the teaching of the Saint, A REFUGE FOR EVERY KIND OF SAD AND UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCE. Whatever causes us distress, he counseled, we must pray about it. Furthermore, we must go to our SPIRITUAL FATHER (our Father Confessor), confess it, and in this way the problem will end. He made reference to the holy Apostle Paul who said: “Forget those things which are behind and reach forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13).
That We Must Not Lose Courage, but that We Are to be
Certain Regarding God’s Love Towards Us
The Saint emphasized that a Christian ought not to lose courage. The chief cause of cowardice is vanity, self-love, and the love of this life. The Christian does not live in this life alone, for himself. IN contrast, he must profess together with the holy Apostle Paul: “IS IS NO LONGER I WHO LIVE, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME” (Galatians 2:20).
We must be fully confident in the reality that nothing can make Christ stop loving us. Therefore, let us proceed with confidence, repeating out loud together with the great Apostle: “Who shall separate from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, of famine, or nakedness, or peril, or swords? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities nor power, nor things present nor thing to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8:35-39).
We MUST BE CONFIDENT that we will live victoriously and we will find Divine Grace, as long as we come to love our dear Christ. With this, the Saint recalled the biblical saying: “I LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE ME, AND THOSE WHO SEEK ME DILIGENTLY WILL FIND ME” (Proverbs 8:17).
On How to Combat Vanity
VANITY is the forerunner of PRIDE, the WORST SIN OF ALL. Saint Porphyrios called upon his spiritual children to pay special attention to this issue. He taught them to avoid vanity which tends to “enter everywhere.” George Papzahos, his cardiologist, wrote: “As my doctor, the Saint did not just “see” my bodily illnesses. He tried to help me acquire a patient-couple of mind who I cared for, and shared with me an immense expression of love. I now convey his words to you: “Georgie, I am the Elder. Both of us are going to hell, We will hear: Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? I interrupted him: ‘What did we enjoy in this life, Geronda [Elder}? The junk car, the empty bank account, or our lack of sleep?’ He answered abruptly: ‘What are you saying? Don’t the people tell you what a great doctor you are? you love us, you take care of us, and you don’t thrash us, they say. And you, you call this up, you believe them. Eh, you have lost your reward. The same happens to me. They tell me how I have ‘gifts,’ how I can touch them and perform miracles, that I am a saint. And I too eat this up, the foolish and weak oen. Eh, that’s why I said that we are both going to hell!’ ‘If it is so,’ I answered, ‘let us go to hell then together.’ He closed the phone saying, ‘I am speaking to you in a serious way and you are joking around. Good metanoia (repentance) to us both.’
Another day I was quite sullen, reflecting on the fact that most of my years had gone by fruitless, because of useless, daily preoccupations. The Saint called and he lifted my spirits with two, three phrases: ‘Doctor, did you ever hear the expression ‘they shall not taste death?’ We are able, if wew wish, to escape the syndrome of death. All it takes is that we come to love Christ. And you, mister cardiologist, are to do so ‘with all your heart’ (laughing).’
On Accepting the Will of God with Joy
Each person, consistent with Saint’s teaching, must ACCEPT EACH HEARTACHE WITH JOY, because this proceeds from God. Everything occurs either by good will or by oncession of the All-Good God Who loves us infinitely. We must truly believe that everything which occurs to us is for our own good, given that God cannot give something that is “bad.” We MUST ACCEPT ALL THINGS WITH THANKSGIVING and GRATITUDE, as a visitation by God. The saying of the HolyBible is unambiguous: “FOR WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CORRECTS, JUST AS A FATHER THE SON IN WHOM HE DELIGHTS” (Proverbs 3:12). At the same time, the Lord has revealed to us that “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30), meaning that He maintains a devoted care for us, even for the seemingly most superficial things.
Hence, all things are “good” and “for the Christian, nothing exists which can cause him grief,” as Saint Paisios taught. The Christin may “lament (externally), but HE DOES NOT “GRIEVE” (internally); he grieves himself over nothing. In contrast, if we groan and complain out loud, “Why me, my God?” it is as if we are saying: “You do not love me, God. You are not love,” something which embodies blasphemy and grave ingratitude.
Saint Porphyrios said, “Know this, my child, that nothing has occurred as is, by chance. Everything has its purpose. Nothing happens without the presence of a cause. Not even a pine needle can fall from a pine tree, if GOD does not will it. Therefore, you must not become saddened over what befalls you.” (Source: Healing The Soul: Saint Porphyrios of Kafsokalyvia as a Model for Our Lives).
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God