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.
THE FRAGRANCE OF PRAYER
By the Saintly Elder Ephraim of Arizona, from “My Elder
Joseph the Hesychast.”
Once when Geronda (Elder) and I were outside with our prayer-ropes and he was telling me about prayer and his experiences of looking after monks in their old age, I could smell lilies and roses, even though we only had holly-oak trees there. I was sniffing intently, and he said to me, “Why are you doing that?” “Geronda, I smell lilies and roses.” “Why don’t you go over there to my door?” So I went over to his door and smelled his cell. That heavenly fragrance was so strong that it stuck to my beard and my clothes. Then he explained to me, “It is from prayer. Don’t you understand? The name of Christ is fragrance.”
I could sense the scent of his prayer pervading everything around him. It affected not only my bodily senses but also my entire internal self. When m brothers sent to Geronda’s cell after his vigil to tell him their confessions, they also sensed the same fragrance many times.
When Geronda’s prayer culminated, his little cell became a “burning bush.” Many times I said to myself, “I wonder what takes place within the soul, within the heart of this holy man?” In order to grasp what was really taking place within the heart of this contemporary saint, we, too, must also get a taste of how if feels when the prayer is continuously being said on its own accord within our heart. We must see and experience through noetic prayer what God is like–what beauty He has, what His Divine traits are. We must feel how He mysteriously exists, how He miraculously sustain all creation, how He is present within creation yet beyond it and completely within the heart, how theoria occurs within the nous, how He takes the nous and Divinely guides it into His mysteries, and what is revealed to the nous.
Geronda [Elder] lived all these things to a fullness beyond our comprehension. The power of Geronda’s pure prayer affected not just himself but even nature around him. When Geronda was praying, wild birds would come to the windows of his cell and peck on the panes. One would think that this was the activity of the devil to hinder him from prayer. But, in fact, the wild birds were attracted by Geronda’s prayer.
How vividly these great monastic saints must have felt
grace in prayer! God visits us somewhat faintly in prayer,
and we feel a little bit of grace. But they who were engrossed
in theoria all night long–how intensely they must have felt the
Kingdom of Heaven! “THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS WITHIN
US” [Luke 17:21].
Saint Paisios the Athonite writes:
“You have need of books that will assist in your repentance.
If you want to help the Church, correct yourself, and immediately
amendment is made to a small part of the Church.
Naturally, if everyone did this, then the Church would be put in
Therefore, limit yourself to the Patristic writings and avoid sappy
and superficial books by contemporary writers, who use long titles
to provoke spiritual interests [and deception]. One gets tired only
by reading them, just like the cow, when its stall is full of straw,
tires of chewing and ruminating its food all day long, and in the end
does not produce even one glass of milk…”
Saintly Elder Ephraim of Arizona writes:
“Demons want to make you despair or lose heat. Therefore, arm
yourself with trust and hope in God and with the conviction that
they are not allowed to do anything without the higher command
“Before I was 80 years old, I would visit Paradise frequently.
And now as well but age has a role to play.
One time the Lord took my by the hand and was telling me,
“…here you built a Church, here you Confessed and a soul was
saved, here you comforted, here you corrected…”
In other words, He was telling me everything and with that He
was giving me great joy while talking to me. So much joy and
I said: “My Christ, I can’t bear anymore, I can’t bear anymore.
I’m going to explode, take me back.” And I found myself back
in my room.”
Metropolitan Avgoustinos of Florina (+2010)
“One who passionately loves Christ is not satisfied with a mere
–an occasional visit to His house, or a cool greeting.
Rather, he desires that Christ live and be experienced within his
heart. The lover desires a perfect union with Christ; and Christ
also, the Lover like no other, Whose love is an unfathomable ocean,
desires an intimate relationship with every one of His faithful
children. He desires to be the most loving of persons, the Lover of
lovers deep within us. As the head is inseparably attached to the
rest of the body, so Christ, the Head of the Church and the Eternal
Center of Life, wants to be united – inseparably – with every member
of the Church — IN OUR THOUGHTS, IN OUR FEELINGS, IN OUR
HEARTS, AND IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE.”
[Source: Orthodox Heritage]
“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