Thoughts and Deception(Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov)


Those who want to pray with a cleansed mind (nous) must not concern themselves with the latest news from the newspapers, or read books that are irrelevant to our spiritual life - especially those books that arouse the passions - and they must not strive to learn out of curiosity whatever pertains to the lives of others. All these things bring foreign thoughts to mind, and when a person attempts to elucidate them, they confound his mind even more.

When the soul is taught love by God, then it will feel sorrow for all of Mankind, all of Creation, and will pray that everyone might repent and receive the grace of the Holy Spirit. But, should the soul lose this grace, love will abandon it (because without the grace of God, it is impossible to love one';s enemy) and that is when wicked thoughts will issue from the heart, as the Lord had said (Matthew 15:19, Mark 7:21-22).

Without the humility of Christ, Man';s nous (mind) will not be cleansed and his soul will never feel reposed in God, but will always be agitated by various thoughts that will hinder his "theory" (sighting) of God. Ah, the humility according to Christ! Those who have tried it, rush towards God, insatiably, day and night!

Ah, but what a weakling I am! I have been writing for just a short while, and yet I have quickly become tired, and my body yearns to rest. But even the Lord Himself, when He was on earth "in His flesh", was familiar with human frailty. He, the Merciful One, would also feel weary after His journeys on foot, and He had also slept on board a boat during the tempest; and, after the disciples had roused Him from His sleep, He commanded the sea and the wind to become still, and a great calm followed. So it is with our soul, whenever we call upon the most Holy Name of the Lord: a great calm follows.

Allow us, o Lord, to glorify You, until our dying breath ...;..

One can fall into deception, either out of inexperience, or out of pride. And if it is out of inexperience, the Lord heals the deceived one very quickly; however, if it is on account of pride, then the soul will be struggling for a very long time, until it has learnt humility and will then be healed by the Lord.

We fall into a deception, when we consider ourselves more prudent and experienced than the others - even our own spiritual father. This is what I myself had thought -in my inexperience- and this was the reason that I suffered. And I thank the Lord from my heart, because in this way, He humbled me and admonished me, and did not revoke His mercy from me. Now it occurs to me that without confessing to our spiritual father, it will not be possible to avoid deception, because it was to the spiritual father that God gave the gift of "binding and unbinding".

If you sense light inside you or around you, do not believe in it unless you also have a deep solemnity within you for God and a love for your fellow man. However, do not be afraid; only humble yourself, and that light will disappear.

Should you see a certain vision or dream, do not trust it, for if it was from God, the Lord Himself will inform you about it. A soul that has not tasted of the Holy Spirit cannot discern where the vision comes from. The enemy will give the soul a "sweet sensation" combined with vainglory, and it is from this, that deception will have become evident.

The Fathers say that when a vision is a hostile one, the soul feels confusion or fear; but this will happen only to the humble soul that considers itself unworthy of a vision. The vainglorious person however, may not feel either fear or confusion, because he is desirous of visions and regards himself as worthy of them, which is why the enemy can easily deceive him.

Celestial things are recognized through the Holy Spirit and terrestrial things through one';s physical state. Whosoever attempts to know God through the physical mind is deceived, because God can only be known via the Holy Spirit.

If you see demons with your mind, then humble yourself and try not to look, and run as fast as you can to your spiritual Geron (Elder), to whom you have surrendered yourself. Tell him everything, and the Lord will then show His mercy on you and you will be rescued from that deception. But if you believe that you know more about spiritual matters than your spiritual father and you cease to tell him whatever is happening to you, then, because of this act of pride, inevitably, a certain trial will "befall" you, in order to restore your prudence.

Fight your enemies with humility.

When you see another mind struggling with your mind, then humble yourself and the struggle will cease.

If you happen to see demons, do not be afraid, but humble yourself and the demons will disappear. But if fear does overcome you, you will not avoid suffering some harm. Be brave. Remember that the Lord can see you, if you have hinged your hopes on Him.

But, for the soul to acquire respite from the demons, it must humble itself and say: "I am worse than all the others; I am more wretched than every beast and every wild animal"...

Just as people enter a house and leave it, so do thoughts come from demons and they can leave, provided we do not hold on to them. If your thought says: "steal" and you obey, you are in this way giving the demon power over you. If your thought says: "eat as much as you want, until you are full", and you do eat excessively, then again the demon will hold power over you. Thus, if the thought of every passion conquers you, you will end up a dwelling-place of demons. However, if you commence with the appropriate repentance, then the demons will begin to quake and be forced to leave."

The difference between Atheism and Agnosticism


Most of these people characterize themselves as "godless". But, only few of them have comprehended the significance of this expression, or the logical contradictions that are prerequisites of its acceptance.

Who exactly should be called "godless"? The person who BELIEVES THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST. But, this phrasing alone makes it obvious that atheism presupposes a faith in the non-existence of God. This is not a play on words here. When we analyze the subject further down, it will become obvious that it is exactly as we said above.

Many atheists claim: "I don't believe in God, because I have no evidence of this." But when you ask them: "What evidence do you have of the opposite?" they can only present their hypotheses, without a shred of actual evidence. Thus, their atheist position is not the result of any evidence, but simply their CHOICE between two, improvable aspects: the existence and the non-existence of God.

On realizing this impasse, and in their attempt to avoid this logical contradiction, some of them say: "I am not rejecting the existence of God; I simply don't have a piece of evidence that will make me believe in God".

These people are consistent in what thy say. The only thing is, THEY ARE NOT CALLED ATHEISTS; THEY ARE CALLED AGNOSTICS. An Atheist is the one who rejects the existence of God. An Agnostic is the one who is open to the possibility of God existing, but has not yet been convinced of it. So, in this series of topics, we shall be dealing with the Atheists, and not the Agnostics, who are more logical.

And I am referring to the true Agnostics; the ones who can recognize the above difference. Because there are also those who claim to be open to the possibility of God's existence, but declare themselves to be "atheists", thus indicating that they have basically taken a stance, hence their claim of being open to the possibility of God's existence is only a cover-up, to conceal their contradiction. But they are easily detected, by their open hatred towards anything that has to do with God. The fact alone that they claim to be open to the possibility of God's existence, shows that: either they are not true atheists, but are suffering from a total confusion of meanings, or, they are actually atheists, who are trying to conceal their fanaticism behind the cover of agnosticism.

It is therefore important -in any conversation with atheists- to clarify exactly what they mean, and what their affiliation is to Agnosticism.

So, from the moment someone says: "I am an atheist", he is actually declaring his faith in an unproven statement that: "God doesn't exist".

And it is so improvable, as is the acknowledgement that "God exists". Hence, atheism is not aligned with rationalism and logic. It is simply one more religion.

The negative notion of God

But, there is another contradiction in the logic of atheism:

Even though -at first glance- atheism appears to reject every notion of God, deep down, it is inconceivable for someone to reject something, unless they have related it to something. We reject something, when we have somehow related it to something else. Hence, a notion of God must pre-exist in our mind, which want to reject.

It is impossible for one to escape from the question of God, regardless whether he is a Christian, or a follower of another religion, or even a denier of every notion of God. That person first must sort out in his mind, exactly what it is that he is rejecting, before proceeding to reject it.

So, when an atheist says: "I reject the notion of God", it is consistent to ask him: "How do you perceive the notion of God?" because he has A CERTAIN NOTION in mind that he is rejecting. If we ask him more analytically, we usually hear him speak of a specific "type" of god, whom he understands as "God".

Comprehending the "type" of god he has in mind is very important for Christians, and especially for Orthodox Christians, because in Orthodox theology, even the minutest detail regarding God is of great importance, which can change everything. In doing this, we will realize that usually (if not always), an atheist has an entirely mistaken notion of "what is a god", or, "what" or "who" is God.

If the atheist is simply prejudiced -as is the majority of atheists- we perceive that he has entirely fallacious notions of all of the above; that he will speak of monster-gods, which not even we Christians accept. In the few atheists who reject God on true philosophical and consistent grounds, we perceive a rejection of the non-existent gods of both Western and Eastern religions. These people NEVER reject the God of Orthodoxy. The only ones opposed to the God of Orthodoxy, are those who have an utter ignorance of philosophy as well as a multitude of prejudices and obsessions. The latter usually repeat the words of atheist philosophers in parrot-fashion, without having the faintest idea of what those words mean, so that they could understand they are not turning against the Christian God, but the god of the Westerners.

But on these arguments and prejudices we shall go into more detail, in a separate article

Η αθεΐα και η δεισιδαιμονία πάνε μαζί - ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΥ ΒΕΛΙΜΙΡΟΒΙΤΣ ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠΟΥ ΑΧΡΙΔΟΣ




            Γιατί απορείς, αγαπητέ μου; Η αθεΐα και η δεισιδαιμονία πάνε μαζί! Φαίνεται αφύσικο. Και όμως είναι το πιο φυσικό. Ψέμα και το ένα, ψέμα και το άλλο. Και τα δύο προέρχονται από εκείνον, που ο Χριστός τον ονόμασε «πατέρα του ψεύδους».

            Η αλήθεια είναι πάντα η ίδια, ενώ το ψέμα μοιάζει με τον χαμαιλέοντα, πού αλλάζει συνεχώς χρώματα. Δεν είναι καθόλου αφύσικη η σχέση της αθεΐας με την δεισιδαιμονία, όπως νόμιζες! Πάνε τόσο φυσικά μαζί, όσο η φωτογραφία με την κορνίζα.Χωρίς Θεό, το κάθε τι καταντάει κορνίζα της δεισιδαιμονίας. Το ένα ψέμα αναζητεί το άλλο.

            Όταν ο βασιλιάς Σαούλ έπαυσε να υπακούει στον Θεό, δια του προφήτου Σαμουήλ κατέφυγε στην εγγαστρίμυθο μάγισσα της πόλεως, Αενδώρ, να του ειπεί την αλήθεια να της ζητήσει συμβουλή! Ο Φίλιππος ο ωραίος, βασιλιάς της Γαλλίας, ήταν ξακουστός για δύο πράγματα: γιατί ήταν άθεος, και γιατί έλεγε στους επισκέπτες του την τύχη τους, κοιτάζοντας το φλυτζάνι του καφέ.

            Δεν διάβασες στην αγία Γραφή, ότι οι δύο ψεύτες, Ηρώδης και Πιλάτος, πριν από την δίκη του Χριστού, πού είναι η Αλήθεια, έγιναν φίλοι; Έτσι και σήμερα. Οι άθεοι και οι ψεύτες συχνά συμφιλιώνονται και συμμαχούν, προκειμένου να πολεμήσουν την αλήθεια!

            Κοίταξε την δεισιδαιμονία των Εβραίων! Ήθελαν να φονεύσουν τον Χριστό. Και τον επήγαν από τού Καϊάφα στο πραιτώριο. Και δεν μπήκαν στο πραιτώριο, για να μη μιανθούν (Ιω. 18, 28). Γιατί ξημέρωνε γιορτή! ΝΑ φονεύσουν αθώο άνθρωπο, δεν τούς ήταν μίασμα! ΝΑ εισέλθουν στο πραιτώριο την εορτή, τούς ήταν μίασμα!

            Τα ίδια συμβαίνουν και σήμερα. Πέταξαν την πίστη και πλημμύρισαν τον κόσμο με προλήψεις και δεισιδαιμονίες. Πέταξαν τον αληθινό Θεό και παρέδωσαν τούς εαυτούς των στον αντίχριστο, για τον οποίον είπε ο Χριστός: «Εκείνος, δηλαδή ο διάβολος, είναι απ' αρχής ανθρωποκτόνος».

            Αυτό σίγουρα δεν το γνωρίζει ο γνωστός σας κύριος, πού πέταξε τον Θεό και εγκολπώθηκε τις τσιγγάνικες δεισιδαιμονίες. 


St. Gerasimos of Cephalonia - Greece

altSt. Gerasimos was born into the Notaras aristocratic family of Trikala Korinthias in 1506. His parents were Dimitrios and Kallie Notara. His grandfather Lucas, the last prime minister of Byzantium, was a relative of Constantine Paleologos, the Emperor of Byzantium.
On completion of his excellent education, he toured all the sacred places in Greece. He went to Constantinople on a pilgrimage to the land of his anscestors. He then moved on to Mount Athos where he was ordained monk. His ascetic cave is preserved to date in Kapsala (cell of Vasilios the Great).

He was ordained priest in the Holy Land where he served for 12 years at the Sacred Tomb Brotherhood and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Seeking a higher peace, he moved on to Crete and later on ended up in Zakynthos where he stayed for 12 months.

He came to Cephalonia in 1555 where he spent five ascetic years in a cave in Lassi, an area on the outskirts of Argostoli. In 1560 he went to Omala where he renovated the small church of Theotokos. Here he founded a convent which he named "New Jerusalem".

His most characteristic motto, which he preached until he died, was "Children, live in peace and do not be arrogant".

He passed away to the Lord on August 15th 1579. For ecclesiastic reasons - the celebration of the Dormition - his death is commemorated on the next day, August 16th. On papal intervention, the Venetians ordered a second burial. The second restitution took place on October 20th of the following year.

Since then, the Sacred Relic remains intact and fragrant for the blessing of the devout, displayed in a glass case which is incorporated in a larger silver larnax placed over the Saint's Tomb.