Here on Cyprus, they don’t call him “Your Eminence,” or “Metropolitan,” but “Elder.” Vladyka’s spirit is quiet and joyful. On Bright Monday he served in the Monastery of St. George the Alaman: He walked through the church unnoticed, stood in his spot, sang the Paschal canon, went into the altar, served the Liturgy, blessed everyone, drank some coffee in the guest house with the people, and left, just as imperceptibly.
Condemnation is a very pleasant occupation for us. However, we must pay attention to this problem, because condemnation is a manifestation of our egotism. If we mercilessly and severely judge our brothers, that means we are full of egotism, and we must undertake serious spiritual work.
The meaning of this feast day for us, who are constrained by the passions and sin, lies in the obtainment of freedom, which the Lord has given us through His birth; to be freed from slavery to sin and the darkness of our falling away from God, and also to again be able to experience rejoicing in life as true children of God.
The marriage bond is a cross-like connection, a connection founded on God’s blessing, which presupposes that the couple are entering into it consciously, with a readiness to transcend themselves and overcome their egos in order to communicate with one another.
We see here an amazing thing: In the Gospels Christ changes our way of thinking, while logic suggests to us that when they accuse you, slander and persecute you, you are unfortunate. But Christ comes and says to you that, to the contrary, you are not unhappy but blessed and fortunate!
The Orthodox Church ascribes enormous significance to time as the instrument of our salvation. Therefore the Church continually prays: “To live the time of our lives in peace, and repose in repentance, let us ask of the Lord.” How important it is that we should live the rest of our days in “peace and repentance”! But in what kind of peace?
The Orthodox Church of Christ never lost the “unity of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit” and does not accept the theory of the restoration of the unity of those “who believe in Christ,” because it believes that the unity of those who believe in Christ already exists in the unity of all of Her baptized children, between themselves and with Christ, in Her correct faith, where no heretics or schismatics are present, for which reason She prays for their return to Orthodoxy in repentance.
Thus, we are commemorating our Lord’s incarnation in order to experience on the one hand His great love for us and on the other to feel great gratitude for all the wonderful things He has granted us. In addition, this benefits us in a practical way, because we are offered the opportunity to pass judgement on our life.
Confession is the simplest way to learn what people think about and to understand their problems or concerns. I am very happy when people view their bishop as their father. I am happy when I know that people can come to my church and find me there to tell me about their problems.
When I saw him praying in church, then I thought: if there is some person who holds the helm of the whole world, it isn’t the president of America, it isn’t a communist, it isn’t any person of this world—it’s Elder Paisios. He is able to steer the rudder of the whole world.