Why did God become man?

For if a king, having founded a house or city, if it be beset by bandits from the carelessness of its inmates, does not by any means neglect it, but avenges and reclaims it as his own work, having regard not to the carelessness of the inhabitants, but to what beseems himself; much more did God the Word of the all-good Father not neglect the race of men, His work, going to corruption: but, while He blotted out the death which had ensued by the offering of His own body, He corrected their neglect by His own teaching, restoring all that was man's by His own power. And of this one may be assured at the hands of the Saviour's own inspired writers, if one happen upon their writings, where they say: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died, and He died for all that we should no longer live unto ourselves, but unto Him Who for our sakes died and rose again," our Lord Jesus Christ. And, again: "But  we behold Him, Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, that by the grace of God He should taste of death. For if a king, having founded a house or city, if it be beset by bandits from the carelessness of its inmates, does not by any means neglect it, but avenges and reclaims it as his own work, having regard not to the carelessness of the inhabitants, but to what beseems himself; much more did God the Word of the all-good Father not neglect the race of men, His work, going to corruption: but, while He blotted out the death which had ensued by the offering of His own body, He corrected their neglect by His own teaching, restoring all that was man's by His own power. And of this one may be assured at the hands of the Saviour's own inspired writers, if one happen upon their writings, where they say: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died, and He died for all that we should no longer live unto ourselves, but unto Him Who for our sakes died and rose again," our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, again: "But we behold Him, Who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with every man." Then He also points out the reason why it was necessary for none other than God the Word Himself to become incarnate; as follows: "For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and through Whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering;" by which words He means, that it belonged to none other to bring man back from the corruption which had begun, than the Word of God, Who had also made them from the beginning. And that it was in order to the sacrifice for bodies such as His own that the Word Himself also assumed a body, to this, also, they refer in these words: "Forasmuch then as the children are the sharers in blood and flesh, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same, that through death He might bring to naught Him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage."  For by the sacrifice of His own body, He both put an end to the law which was against us, and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which He has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over men, for this cause conversely, by the Word of God being made man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life; as the man which bore Christ saith: For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive :" and so forth. For no longer now do we die as subject to condemnation; but as men who rise from the dead we await the general resurrection of all, "which in its own times He shall show," even God, Who has also wrought it, and bestowed it upon us. This then is the first cause of the Saviour's being made man. But one might see from the following reasons also, that His gracious coming amongst us was fitting to have taken place.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF II/IV, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The
Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.

The Feast of the Cross

Why do we need a relationship with the Cross?

1. Protection

2. Reminder of Salvation

3. Witness for our fellowship

4. Our Identity

5. True symbol of Love

6. Our gate to heaven


8. Remembrance of all Jesus did for us

9.  Carrying our cross

10.  Blessings of the New Testament

11. Excorcism

12. Strength in tribulation

13. Treatment for the sinner

14.  To control evil desires/habits

15. Prayer

16. Make the sign of the cross before every action; even answering the phone

We are called to be crucified and not only partake of the power of the Cross.

Crucified to the "world" (Galations 6:14); meaning of the "world": geographic, people, bad desires

Is the world alive in my eyes?

If it is; then I am affected by it; tempted, moved by small things.  If the world is truly crucified in my eyes. It's dead, not is appealilng in it in my eyes.  Voluntary death: choosing to have a spiritual life. Involuntary death: succumbing to our bodies; therefore having eternal death.  The Cross is the key to the Resurrection.
The Christian life is the life of Resurrection; you can't have the Resurrection with the Cross.

Galations 5:24: "And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Crucify your mind while reading the Bible.  Your faith satisfies your mind (gives you peace of mind) but your mind can not strengthen your your faith.

Crucify your eyes when you are tempted by lust.

Contemplation on the 1st hour of Holy Monday (2)

Why did the Lord curse the fig tree?
Our Lord cursed the fig tree so the disciples might have confidence. For because everywhere He conferred benefits, but punished no man. He needed to demonstrate for them proof of His power to take vengeance for two reasons: first, so that the disciples might learn; and second, so that the Jews might learn, that He was able to blast them that crucify Him, but submitted of His own will and did not blast them. For it was not His will to demonstrate this vengeance upon men; but He furnished the proof of His might in taking vengeance on the fig tree. But when anything like this is done to places, to plants, or to animals, do not be curious, nor say that the fig tree was unfairly dried up because it was not the time of figs – for this it is the most trifling thing to say. Rather, behold the miracle, and admire and glorify its Maker.

Contemplation on the 11th hour of Great Thursday (1)

"One of you will betray me"

Did Judas also fall from the apostolic order in which he too, being once in a condition similar to the other disciples, was exalted?

This is how I understand the statement, "Behold Adam has become of us," (Gen. 3:22), since it is said there, neither "as we,"  nor "as I," but because of the one who had fallen from blessedness,"as one of us." [And the phrase],"as on" seems to me to agree also with the statement, "But you indeed die as men, and fall like one of the princes." (Ps. 81:7)

For of the many who are princes, one has fallen, with whom sinners fall in close imitation of his fall. For just as that one who partook of deity has fallen, so too have those to whom the Word says, "I have said, you are gods and all sons of the Most High," (Ps. 81:6) fallen from blessedness and, although they were not originally men, they die as men, and fall as one of the princes. 


Palm Sunday

He rides on a donkey and a young colt; not a chariot. You have a unique sign of the King who came. Jesus was the only king Who sat upon an unyoked foal, entering into Jerusalem with acclamations as a king. And when this king comes, what does He do??He sits upon a foal to give us a sign, where the King that enters shall stand. And He gives this sign not far from the city, that it may not be unknown to us. He gave a sign plain before our eyes, so that even if we are in the city, we may behold the place of the King. And the prophet again makes answer saying: ?And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which faces Jerusalem on the east?? (Zech. 14:4) Does any one standing within the city fail to behold the place?

Contemplation on the 3rd hour of Holy Tuesday (1)

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Actually, we are the Jerusalem that Jesus wept over. After we came to know the mysteries of Truth, the words of the Gospel, and the teachings of the Church; and after we have seen the mysteries of the Lord, we still commit sins! The Lord wept over Jerusalem due to its sin, for the enemies besiege it, and ruin its buildings in it, and they leave no stone one on top of the other….

Contemplation on the 1st hour of the Eve of Wednesday (1)

What is the wedding garment? (Matt 22:1-14)

Put off, I beg you, fornication and uncleanness, and put on the brightest robe of chastity. This charge I give you, before Jesus the Bridegroom of souls, come in and see their fashions. You have been allowed a long notice; you have forty days for repentance. You have had a full opportunity to both put off and wash; and to put on and enter. But if you persist in an evil purpose, the speaker is blameless. But you must not look for the grace; for the water will receive, but the Spirit will not accept you. If any one is conscious of His wound, let him take the salve; if any has fallen, let him arise. Let there be no Simon among you, no hypocrisy, no idle curiosity about the matter.

Why do ascetics avoid certain things?

Untitled document

There was a certain old man who lived a life of such strict self-denial that he never drank wine. And when I arrived at his cell we sat down to eat. Dates were brought and he ate, and he took water and drank. And I said unto him laughingly, "So you are angry with absinthe, Father? Since you have eaten dates and have drank water, why do you not drink wine?"

And he answered and said unto me, "If you take a handful of dust and throw it on a man, will it hurt him?" And I said unto him, "No." And he said unto me, "If you take a handful of water and throw it over a man, will he feel pain?" And I said unto him, "No." And he said unto me, "And again, if you take a handful of chopped straw and throw it over a man, will it cause him pain?" And I said unto him, "No."

Then he said unto me, "But if you bring them all together and mix them, and knead them well, and dry them, you may throw the mass on the skull of a man and you will not break it." And I said unto him, "Yes, father, that is true." And he said unto me, "The monks do not abstain from certain things without good reason, and you must not listen to the men who are in the world who say, 'Why do they not eat this and why do they not drink that?' Is there not sin in them? Such people know not. Now we abstain from certain things not because the things themselves are bad, but because the passions are mighty, and when they have waxed strong they kill us."

from S. A. Wallis Budge, "The Paradise of the Holy Fathers," (Seattle: St. Nectarios Press, 1984), pp. 151-152

Abraham’s Humility

Untitled document A great and honourable man was Abraham, but only great in comparison with men; and when he came before God, then speaking the truth candidly he saith, I am earth and ashes (Gen. xviii) . He did not say `earth', and then cease, lest he should call himself by the name of that great element; but he added `and ashes', that he might represent his perishable and frail nature. Is there anything, he saith, smaller or lighter than ashes? For take, saith he, the comparison of ashes to a house, of a house to a city, a city to a province, a province to the Roman Empire, and the Roman Empire to the whole earth and all its bounds, and the whole earth to the heaven in which it is embosomed;-the earth, which bears the same proportion to the heaven as the centre to the whole circumference of a wheel, for the earth is no more than this in comparison with the heaven: consider then that this first heaven which is seen is less than the second, and the second than the third, for so far Scripture has named them, not that they are only so many, but because it was expedient for us to know so many only. And when in thought thou hast surveyed all the heavens, not yet will even the heavens be able to praise God as He is, nay, not if they should resound with a voice louder than thunder. But if these great vaults of the heavens cannot worthily sing God's praise, when shall `earth and ashes', the smallest and least of things existing, be able to send up a worthy hymn of praise to God, or worthily to speak of God, that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and holdeth the inhabitants thereof as grasshoppers.

When to Pray?

It is good…to pray always and not to lose heart, as the Lord says, And again the Apostle says, ‘Pray without ceasing’, (Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me) that is by night and by day and at every hour, and not only when coming into the church, and not bothering at other times. But whether you are working, lying down to sleep, traveling, eating, drinking, sitting at table, do not interrupt your prayer, for you do not know when he who demands your soul is coming (death approaching…). Don’t wait for Sunday or a feast day, or a different place, but, as the Prophet David says, ‘in every place of his dominion’.

Whether you are in church, or in your house, or in the country; whether you are guarding sheep, or constructing buildings, or present at drinking parties, do not stop praying. When you are able, bend your knees, when you cannot, make intercession in your mind, ‘at evening and at morning and at midday’. If prayer precedes your work and if, when you rise from your bed, your first movements are accompanied by prayer, sin can find no entrance to attack your soul.

How to Deal with the Warefare which Lust Arouses in Us (2)

A brother at Scetis was a good fighter.  The enemy suggested the rememberance of a very beautiful woman to him and he was much afflicted by it.  Providentially, another brother who went to Scetis from Egypt said to him, while they were speaking together, "The wife of so and so is dead." Now it was the woman about whom the ascetic had experienced the conflict.  When he heard this, he took his cloak and went to open her tomb by night; he soaked teh cloak in the decomposing body. Then he returned to his cell bringing this bad smell with him, and he strove against his thoughts, saying, "here is the desire you are seeking, you have it, be satisfied." And he chastised himself by means of that bad smell until the warfare in him ceased.

Disciplining and raising children – Part IV

31. Furthermore, wishing to acquaint our children with sciences we not only remove any conflicting teachings, but give them everything that will support it; we thrust mentors and teachers upon them, give them financial support, free them from all other occupations; and even more than trainers at Olympic games, we scream at them about poverty that results from not studying and wealthy from studying. We ourselves and through others do and say everything just to lead them to finishing their studies; and at that, we do not always succeed. But do modest manners and diligence over honorable behavior, in our opinion, come by themselves, regardless of all the many obstacles? What can be worse than this insanity — spending so much time and energy on what is easy as though it were impossible to succeed in it otherwise, while what is infinitely more difficult seems to us as something empty and insignificant that will come to us even as we sleep? For exercise of the soul in the pious life is so many times more difficult than the study of sciences, so much harder to fulfill than it is possible to say; it is the difference between action and words.

32. “But why,” you say, “do our children need such wisdom and strict behavior?” This is the very thing that is so all-destructive — that such an important matter, the support of our life, is considered extravagant and unnecessary. Having seen your son sick in body, no one would ask why he needs perfect and strong health. To the contrary you would take every measure to return his body to a good condition, so that the illness would not return.

But when children have sick souls, they say that they need no treatment; and after such words they dare to call themselves fathers! “What?” you say, “Shall we only seek after wisdom and let everything earthly fall apart?” No, most respected ones, it is not love of wisdom but the lack of it that has destroyed and disrupted everything. For who, tell me, disrupts the present condition of things — those who live continently and modestly, or those who invent new and unlawful means of delighting themselves? Those who only try to grab other people’s things for themselves, or those who are content with what they have? Those who love mankind, who are meek and do not seek honor, or those who demand honor from their brothers above all obligation, and cause a thousand annoyances for those who do not rise when they enter, do not say the first greeting, do not bow before them, or do not agree with them? Those who love to submit, or those who seek power and positions of authority, and for this are ready to do and endure anything? Those who consider themselves better than everyone, and therefore think that they may say and do anything, or those who consider themselves to be last, and thereby tame their unreasonable self-willed passions? Those who support harlots and defile the marriage beds of others, or those who are continent even with their own wives? Are not the first in human society those who are like tumors on the body and lashing winds over the sea, who with their lack of restraint drown even those who if left alone might have saved themselves? And are not the last those who are like bright lamps amidst thick darkness, calling the shipwrecked to their safety, and, having lit on high in the distance the lamp of wisdom, thus lead those who desire it into the peaceful harbor?

Is it not those others who cause disturbances, wars and fights, and destruction of the cities, and captivity, and slavery, and loss of freedom, and murder, and innumerable catastrophes in life — catastrophes not only wrought on people by people, but also everything sent from heaven, for example: droughts, floods, earthquakes, inundation of cities, famines, pestilences, and everything that is sent to us from there? They debase the social order and destroy the general good; they bring countless misfortunes on others, obfuscate people who seek peace, draw them in and then tear them apart from all directions. Courts and laws, sentences and all manner of punishment were created for these people.

33. If we wanted to educate our children from the earliest age and give them to those who wished to educate them, our children would of course be able to stand in the very forefront of battle; because God would not disdain such fervency and zeal, but would stretch out His hand to complete the sculpture. When His hand acts, it is impossible not to succeed, or rather, it is impossible not to reach the highest degree of brilliance and glory, if only we fulfilled what depends upon us. If women have been able to incline God’s help in the upbringing of children, how much more so could we do the same if we so wanted. In order not to over-stretch this homily, I shall pass over in silence all other women and cite only one, though I could have cited many.

There was a Jewess named Hannah. This Hannah gave birth to a son and no longer hoped to have another, because she was barely able to conceive this one after many tears due to her barrenness. Although her rival often chided her over her barrenness, she did not do as you do, but having received the child she kept him only as long as she needed to feed him milk. As soon as he no longer needed this food, she took him and immediately dedicated him to God, not asking that he ever return to his family’s house, but leaving him to live always in the temple of God. And when out of maternal feeling she wished to see him she did not call the child to herself but came herself with the father to him, treating him carefully, like a sacrifice to God. This is why the boy became so valorous and great that when God turned His face from the Jewish people for its extreme impiety and pronounced no prophecies and sent no visions, this boy again attracted God with his virtue and begged Him to grant the Jews what they formerly had — to renew the prophecy that had ceased. He did this when he was not yet a grown man, but a little child. “And the word of the Lord,” says the Scripture, “was precious in those days, there was no distinct vision” (I Kings 3:1); meanwhile, God often revealed His will to Samuel.
That is how beneficial it is to always give your acquisitions to God, and to refuse not only money and things, but even your own children. For is this has been commanded of us with respect to our souls (Matthew 10:37), how much the more to everything else? The Patriarch Abraham also did this, or rather, he did much more than this, and that is why he received a son with great glory. We especially have our children with us when we have given them to the Lord. For He will preserve them much better than we can because He cares more for them. Have you not seen how it happens in the homes of rich people? There the low-born servants who live with their fathers are not so respected or powerful as those whom the master has taken from the parents, appointed to his service and made guardians of treasures, giving them great good will and freedom. If men are so kind and well-disposed toward their servants, much more so will be the Unlimited Goodness, that is, God.

34. Let us allow our children to serve God, leading them not only to the temple, like Samuel, but to the very heavens to serve together with the Angels and Archangels. For anyone can see that one who dedicates himself to love of wisdom really will be serving with the Angels. Furthermore, such children will be representing with great boldness not only themselves, but us also. For if some children have received help from God for their fathers’ sake, so much more can fathers receive help for their children’s sake; because in the first case the right to help comes only from nature, but in the second case it comes also from upbringing, which is much more important than nature.

I will prove both to you from Divine Scripture. Hezekiah, a virtuous and pious king but having no boldness according to his own deeds to withstand the great danger which threatened him, was saved by God for the sake of his father’s virtue, as God Himself said: “And I will defend this city as with a shield, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake” (IV Kings 19:34). Paul in his epistle to Timothy said about parents: “She (the woman) shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (I Timothy 2:15). The Scripture praises Job because he “was true, blameless, righteous and godly, abstaining from everything evil” (Job 1:1), as well as for his care for his children (Job 1:5). This care consisted not in the collection of wealth for them, and not in attempts to make them glorious and famous, but in what? Listen to what the Scripture says: “And when the days of the banquet were completed, Job sent and purified them, having risen up in the morning, and offered sacrifices for them, according to their number, and one calf for a sin-offering for their souls; for Job said, lest peradventure my sons have thought evil in their minds against God. Thus then Job did continually” (Job 1:5). What justification will we have if we behave with such neglect? For if those who lived before the time of grace and the law, who never received any teachings on the upbringing of children, had such great care for their children as to tremble even over their secret sins – who will justify us, who live during the time of grace, have so many teachers, so many examples and instructions, but meanwhile not only do not fear for their secret sins, but even ignore the obvious sins; and not only do we ourselves ignore them, but even cast out those who do not?  And Abraham, as I said before, stood out for this virtue more than for his many other virtues.

35. Thus, having so many examples, let us prepare pious servants and slaves for God.  If those who prepare competitive fighters for cities, or warriors for the king, are vouchsafed great honor, then what gift shall we receive if we prepare for God such valorous and great men, or rather, angels? We will do everything we can in order to leave them the riches of piety which abide permanently, accompany us even after death and can bring great benefit not only here, but there (in the other world).  Worldly riches do not accompany people into eternity, and they can even perish here before their owners, often even destroying them.  But the riches of piety are permanent in this and the next life, and preserve those who acquire them in great safety.  This is really so; whoever prefers the earthly over the spiritual will lose both, but whoever longs for the spiritual and heavenly will probably also receive the earthly.  These are not my words, but those of the Lord Himself, Who promises to give us this good: “seek,” He says, “first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).  What can compare with this honor?  Concern yourself, He says, with the spiritual, and leave everything else to Me.  A loving father takes all cares of the household upon himself, the governing of servants and everything else, but advises the son to concern himself with love of wisdom.  So does God. Let us be obedient and begin to seek the kingdom of God; then we shall see everywhere reverent children, and we ourselves shall be glorified with them, and delight also in present good things.  Only you must love the future, heavenly things.  If you are obedient, you shall receive a great reward; but if you are contrary and disobedient you will endure terrible punishments.  For we cannot justify ourselves by saying, “No one taught us this.”

36. Untamed youth has need of many instructors and teachers, guides, observers and educators.  Only with this effort can it be reigned in.  An unbroken horse, an untamed beast that is youth.  Therefore, if we place limits from an early age we will not need to use such great force; to the contrary, habit will become law.  We will not allow them to do what is pleasant but harmful; we will not try to please them because they are children, for this brings more harm than anything to youth.  But most of all we will preserve chastity.  We should concern ourselves with this more than anything else, and pay the most attention to this.  We will take wives for them early, so that they would unite themselves to their brides with pure and incorrupt bodies.  This kind of love is especially ardent.  Whoever was chaste before marriage is more likely to remain so after marriage.  But those who learned before marriage to fornicate will do the same after marriage.  For it is written in the Scriptures: “All bread is sweet to a whoremonger” (Sirach 23:17). That is why a crown is placed on the head  as a sign of victory, that they are entering the bridal chamber unvanquished, unconquered by lust.  If someone prone to love of pleasure has given himself to harlots, then what reason does he have for wearing a crown on his head, since he has been vanquished?  We will instill this in them, teach it to them and threaten them in various ways.

37. We have been given an important security – children.  Therefore we shall take care of them, and take every precaution that the evil one may not steal them from us.  Meanwhile, we do everything backward.  We make every effort to ensure that our fields be in good hands.  We seek out the most experienced mule drivers and overseers, but we take no such precautions for what is the most precious to us and through which all other good things come, namely, that we might entrust our son to a man that would preserve his chastity.  We take care to provide him with property, but take no care for him himself.  Do you see what insanity has taken control of us!  First of all educate your son’s soul, and he will acquire possessions later.  If his soul is bad he will not receive the slightest benefit from money.  And vice versa, if he has been given the proper upbringing, then poverty will not harm him in the least.  Do you want to leave him wealthy?  Teach him to be good.  For children who have not received the proper upbringing poverty is better than wealth; it will keep them even against their will within the bounds of virtue.  However, wealth, even for one who does not wish it, does not allow one to live a chaste life, but lures him into a countless multitude of crimes.

38. You, mothers, look after your daughters.  This should not be difficult for you.  Watch that they sit at home.  First of all teach them to be pious, modest, disdaining money, and not worrying too much about fancy dress.  Give them thus to marriage.  If you raise your daughter this way, you will save not only her, but the husband who takes her; and not only her husband, but the children; and not only the children, but the grandchildren.  If the root is good the branches will spread out more beautifully, and you will receive your reward for this.  Therefore let us do everything as though we are caring for the good not of one soul alone, but of many through the one.  For at the time of marriage, they (daughters) should go forth from their father’s houses as fighters from the place of competition; that is, they should know precisely the entire science, by which they might, like a leaven, raise all the ingredients to the increase of them.

39. Again, sons should also be so modest that they might be recognized by their good morals and chastity, and might earn great praise from men and from God.  Let them learn to refrain themselves from extravagant possessions, to be thrifty and tenderly loving; let them learn to submit to authority.  For they can in this way obtain a great reward for their parents.  Then everything will be directed towards the glory of God and our salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom with the Father and Holy Spirit be glory, dominion and honor now and ever and to the ages of ages.  Amen.

Saint Gregory Palamas : On Icons

‘You shall not make an image of anything in the heavens above, or in the earth below, or in the sea’ (cf. Ex 20.4), in such a way that you worship these things and glorify them as gods. For all are the creations of the one God, created by Him in the Holy Spirit through His Son and Logos, who as Logos of God in these latter times took flesh from a virgin’s womb, appeared on earth and associated with men, and who for the salvation of men suffered, died and rose again, ascended with His body into the heavens, and ’sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High’ (Heb 1.3), and who will come again with His body to judge the living and the dead. Out of love for Him you should make, therefore, an icon of Him who became man for our sakes, and through His icon you should bring Him to mind and worship Him, elevating your intellect through it to the venerable body of the Saviour, that is set on the right hand of the Father in heaven.

In like manner you should also make icons of the saints and venerate them, not as gods –for this is forbidden– but because of the attachment, inner affection and sense of surpassing honour that you feel for the saints when by means of their icons the intellect is raised up to them. It was in this spirit that Moses made icons of the Cherubim within the Holy of Holies (cf. Ex 25.18). The Holy of Holies itself was an image of things supercelestial (cf. Ex 25.40; Heb 8.5), while the Holy Place was an image of the entire world. Moses called these things holy, not glorifying what is created, but through it glorifying God the Creator of the world. You must not, then, deify the icons of Christ and of the saints, but through them you should venerate Him who originally created us in His own image, and who subsequently consented in His ineffable compassion to assume the human image and to be circumscribed by it.

You should venerate not only the icon of Christ, but also the similitude of His cross. For the cross is Christ’s great sign and trophy of victory over the devil and all his hostile hosts; for this reason they tremble and flee when they see the figuration of the cross. This figure, even prior to the crucifixion, was greatly glorified by the prophets and wrought great wonders; and when He who was hung upon it, our Lord Jesus Christ, comes again to judge the living and the dead, this His great and terrible sign will precede Him, full of power and glory (cf. Mt 24.30). So glorify the cross now, so that you may boldly look upon it then and be glorified with it. And you should venerate icons of the saints, for the saints have been crucified with the Lord; and you should make the sign of the cross upon your person before doing so, bringing to mind their communion in the sufferings of Christ. In the same way you should venerate their holy shrines and any relic of their bones; for God’s grace is not sundered from these things, even as the divinity was not sundered from Christ’s venerable body at the time of His life-quickening death. By doing this and by glorifying those who glorified God –for through their actions they showed themselves to be perfect in their love for God– you too will be glorified together with them by God, and with David you will chant: ‘I have held Thy friends in high honour, O Lord’ (Ps 139.17 LXX).

Concerning the end of time and what is to come

Avva Pambo conversing with his disciple..And I’ll tell you this, my child, that the days will come when the Christians will add to and will take away from, and will alter the books of the Holy Evangelists, and of the Holy Apostles, and of the Divine Prophets, and of the Holy Fathers. They will tone down the Holy Scriptures and will compose troparia, hymns, and writings technologically. Their nous will be spilled out among them, and will become alienated from its Heavenly Prototype. For this reason the Holy Fathers had previously encouraged the monks of the desert to write down the lives of the Fathers not onto parchment, but onto paper, because the coming generation will change them to suit their own personal tastes. So you see, the evil that comes will be horrible. Then the disciple said: So then, Geronda, the traditions are going to be changed and the practices of the Christians? Maybe there won’t exist enough priests in the Church when these unfortunate times come? And the Holy Father continued: In these times the love for God in most souls will grow cold and a great sadness will fall onto the world. One nation shall face-off against another. Peoples will move away from their own places. Rulers will be confused. The clergy will be thrown into anarchy, and the monks will be inclined more to negligence. The church leaders will consider useless anything concerned with salvation, as much for their own souls as for the souls of their flocks, and they will despise any such concern. All will show eagerness and energy for every matter regarding their dining table and their appetites. They will be lazy in their prayers and casual in their criticisms. As for the lives and teachings of the Holy Fathers, they will not have any interest to imitate them, nor even to hear them. But rather they will complain and say that “if we had lived in those times, then we’d have behaved like that.”And the Bishops shall give way to the powerful of the world, giving answers on different matters only after taking gifts from everywhere and consulting the rational logic of the academics. The poor man’s rights will not be defended; they will afflict widows and harass orphans. Debauchery will permeate these people. Most won’t believe in God; they will hate each other and devour one another like beasts. The one will steal from the other; they will be drunk and will walk about as blind. The disciple again asked: What can we do in such a state? And Elder Pambo answered: My child, in these times whoever will save his soul and prompt others to be saved will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Who is Saint Anthony?

St. Anthony is considered the father of all monks and one ruler of Christian Monasticism.

He was born at about the year 250 A.D. in a city in upper Egypt called Kamen-El -Aroos, city of Beniswef. His father died before he reached the age of twenty. He heard the deacon in the Church reading this verse of the Bible:" If thou wilt be perfect go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven" (Matt.19:21). So, he distributed all his wealth among the poor and left to the desert starting his monastical life, to where it is today near the coast of the Red sea.

People started visiting him and asking him for prayers and blessings. A certain king, from a foreign land, asked him, by means of messengers to come and heal his sick son. The messengers brought gifts to St. Anthony but he did not accept them and decided not to go to that foreign land.

St. Anthony prayed the same day and by the power of Jesus Christ lifting him upon a cloud, he went into that foreign land where he was invited to eat at a Minister's house. That minister had a pig whose youngsters were blind and limb, St. Anthony healed them. The king had heard of this and invited St. Anthony to his house to heal his son. He went there, healed the son and then returned to the monastery.

The following day, the messengers still being at the monastery, were unaware of St. Anthony's trip and asked him to accompany them to heal the King's son. So St. Anthony asked them to return back and he will follow later. After several days of a long trip they heard about the healing of that son and thought that it was St. Anthony after they reached the King's palace but he didn't tell them so that he may avoid falling into temptation. The messengers praised God for what they had witnessed.

St. Anthony passed away in the year 356 A.D. after a life full of good deeds and valuable spiritual experience. We celebrate his departure on the 30th of January (22 Touba of the Coptic calendar) every year.

The blessing Of our blessed St. Anthony be with us. Amen.