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Somewhere, someone needs our help

A night of August,

Sleeping…

I started to dream,

I believe…

A strange light was coming to me,

It was so strong,

And also so nice,

I wake up in a dream

Talking to God…

I knew that soon I will wake up to reality,

So I asked Him:

“Why do I exist?”

He didn’t answer,

I wanted to chase the dream,

And then,

Silently, He took me by the hand,

I let myself to be carried in His arms.

We had arrived at a clearing…

It was covered by white snow,

With a simple gesture He spread out all the snow,

On the brown earth has appeared a lone snowdrip,

I watched amazed,

And He smiled telling me in a simple way:

“I love flowers”,

Then I understood,

He loves me, so I exist.

He took my hand,

And we continued our road…

We arrived in a desert ,

A man was sitting a few metters from us,

He was so worn out

That seemed like a doll,

A doll of rags thrown on the ground…

Then I asked God:

“Why don’t You help this man?

You say that You love him…”

Again God was silent.

In the distance I saw another man,

He was struggling in the oasis to fill a wooden bottle with water…

I sat and watched him…

Around me the sand was carried out higher and higher by the wind,

I fell unconscious to the ground myself.

After some time I got up…

The sand storm had dissapeared,

God was not…

Instead

I saw again the man from the oasis

Trying to make his way through the sand,

He stopped.

I knew then that he saw the man who passed out,

A few meters away from that man…

He went to him spraying on him with water…

I smiled to myself…

We exist because always, in the world

Somewhere…

Someone needs our help.

(Lili)

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Sexual tensions in the lives of teenagers

Even if we had heard something on this subject or not, certainly we had all felt it with all the frustrations it brings. It is that state, in which you feel your body having a strong desire for lust which doesn’t give you peace, putting in your mind dirty images.

The appearance of sexual tensions is determined and maintained by two principal factors: unguarded mind and womb’s greed.

It happens to let our mind to produce sexual fantasies or to languish for dirty images, committing in this way fornication or adultery in our hearts.

In anatomic terms, the hormonal glands are responsible for the general and sexual balance of a man/woman. If we feed our mind with dirty images, if we let it fly and sweeten with the sin, then our mind – as the command center of our body – will stimulate the hormonal glands responsible with the appearance of sexual tensions.

These glands produce the most known sexual hormones: testosterone (for men) and progesterone and estrogen (for women), hormones which, if they shed excessively in blood, give birth to the sexual tensions that demand an use. Thus the sin of fornication begins to manifest also in the body because what you give to the mind that is what the body will do, and the body won’t stop its ignition until it will suppress those sexual energies into fornication, when the hormones are consumed, or until it will be balanced and appeased by means of fasting and prayer.

An actual problem for the teenagers and especially for boys is the many ways of tempting themselves voluntary or involuntary, and the ease with which can be tempted into fornication (films, music, advertisements with sexual connotations, pornography, indecent clothing etc.). And how our mind is bombed with this factors that destroy the brain integrity, and the coherence of thought, and that’s why the avalanche of the hormones for pleasure is stronger.

On the other hand, all the caloric energy which the body doesn’t need anymore in normal environmental conditions, activity, age and sex, is transformed into sexual energy that we perceive as sexual tension. This is the body switching mentioned by the Holy Fathers and which tormented even the greatest ascets. Always the excess of energy from food gives birth to the passions of fornication and anger. If we have problems with this passion we have to avoid as much as possible the food rich in fats (oils, pork, butter) because the fats have a high caloric level and light the body instantly.

Many teenagers take as an excuse the “unbearable” sexual tensions for masturbating and escaping in this way from those tensions, not understanding that the sexual tensions are not a cause which would explain a sexual life before marriage or for falling into the sin of masturbation but are an effect of the abuses we do with our body and our mind, abuses that give birth to these tensions of domino effect.

Again, many fool themselves that if they “ease” these tensions then they will get rid of this oppressive problem, not knowing that a temporary solution like this builds in time a powerfull passion. The mechanism of this passion is similar to that of the drunks: “give to the drunk the drink which quench its thirst and the next time he will ask you more because his thirst will be greater”.

The guarding of mind, the fasting and the prayer are the best weapons against the body switching, the sexual tension – as it is called nowadays. We will see as follows the great power of the prayer in the battle with this temptation: “And, behold, the great storm arose at the sea that the ship is covered with the waves while He was asleep. And the disciples came to Him awaked Him saying: Lord save us, we perish. Jesus said to them: Why are you afraid, of little faith? Then arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was silence. And people were amazed, saying: Who is This that even sea and wind obey Him?” (Matthew 8:24-27)

So, if our Savior appeased the storm and the waves of the sea that covered the boat ready to sink, the Lord will not appease also the storm of our temptations and the waves of dirty thoughts that sometimes crush our mind and body ready to destroy us with fornication? Let us ask the Lord rather to appease the storm within us because Lord will not delay to give us His peace as He promised us: “Peace I let you, My peace I give to you, not as world gives I give you. Your heart has not to be troubled neither afraid.” (John 14:27)

(Dan)

What would I be without You?

There are moments when we say we can no longer bear the cross Good Lord gave us, and most of the times we come to this conclusion because of the despair caused by the presence of sin in our lives and of the disbelief in the Savior’s words.

Lately I have forgot about prayer and the joys it brings, my heart has become petrified, and my mind has darken… and all these because of my estrangement from God.

Many times I feel my shoulders heavy… heavy with the burden of sins. Although I know that only through repentance that I will be healed, thoughts of shame and despair overwhelm me… I am afraid of myself because I know I will always fall, I will always crucify the Lord Jesus and I will always turn my back on Him and I will love myself more.

Every time that God enlightens me and shows me my sins, thousands of thoughts of pride invade my mind… for a few moments I am aware of them… only for a few moments, and then I carry on with my sinful life. I wish this would not happen any longer, but because human nature is so weak and helpless, it is as if we said to ourselves that there is no use in fighting. It is exactly for this reason that the Christ , Our Savior  urges us not to fall into despair, because that the Kingdom of Heaven it’s available only for those who persevere , through the burning love inspired by the Holy Spirit and through unseen struggle with sin and passions.

No matter how many soul-strengthening teachings we receive, it is as if in our hearts we are not yet convinced that we can still achieve salvation in our days as well.

We should ask ourselves the question mentioned in the title but addressed to God… what would I be without You, Lord? I am certain that if we asked ourselves every moment, we wouldn’t forget our sins and, as beloved Father Cleopa Ilie used to say, we would constantly sleep in sins. Unfortunately, many of us do this… we forget that we are mere creatures and we are in God’s hands.

I started asking myself this question more often since the day I was at the subway and I caught sight of a billboard advertising a book with this title ‘What would be without you?’ written by Guillaume Musso. I haven’t read the book, but I heard it is about a woman’s two kinds of love: the love for her father and for the first man she fell in love with. She is forced to choose between the two beloved ones, because they are both caught in a deadly race, and their destinies cannot be separated.

I would have liked it very much if this question were addressed to the Lord Christ, and if the book had a Christian Orthodox topic. But I am glad because starting that day God has been helping me think more often about who I actually am.

Do not ever give up the spiritual struggle. Go to your confessor and confess your sins with repentance and sincerity.

I am anxious as well to go to my confessor because he is the person closest to me, who always awaits me with his arms open and wipes my tears. It is the Lord Jesus Himself through the confessor’s caressing and soul-strengthening words… and after receiving the absolution from sins and with the sincere desire not to sin anymore, the long expected joy comes along… the joy that lifts you to heaven and gives you wings to fly, the joy that cannot be compared to anything in this transient world.

Pray incessantly and struggle against sin… no matter how little it may be. It is because of sins that we are miserable and we cannot enjoy the gifts that God pours forth upon us out of His great love for mankind. Love your neighbor as yourselves and rejoice even together with the most humble beggar on the street corner… it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself within that man’s soul who calls us and awaits for us to respond to Him with love.

(Bianca)

Translated by Claudia

The orthodox perspective about the world Father Seraphim Rose

The voice of Father Paisie from Mount Athos

Immediately came the help from St. Nectarios

Last year, following a surgery that, initially, did not appear to be a complication (Involving removal of a lymphoma – a benign tumor located under the skin. A lymphoma is consisted of cells that produce fat, that gather together in little bunches, or as an elastic ball, they do not present any danger and they are not treated as an emergency; their removal is done in case of physical discomfort or for esthetics purpose – diagnosis establish after an RMN), my husband was diagnosed with lipomixosarcom. Once hearing the diagnosis from the biopsy, being scared, we asked ourselves: “Why?”

Scrolling our lives, we remember that before our wedding ceremony, asking for forgiveness of our sins to the father confessor, he told us that after the wedding we must return to him in order to give us a penance for our spiritual recuperation, since we lived a long time in sin, unmarried. After the wedding, we remained careless to the invitation of the priest, and we found very fast the answer to our questions. We sinned too much! (So we thought then!)

Once we realized the mistake committed before God, we went to the father confessor, we confessed and we received, together, the same penance that we had to fulfill six months ago. On the same day of confession I told father confessor about my husband’s diagnosis, adn I asked him: „What can I do for helping my husband!”, and he told me: „Do you see all this people here? Come here Wednesday or Friday, for seven weeks, to pray as the this people here do, totally fasting until 7 PM in each of these days… You’ll see that he will heal!”

Immediately we started to fulfill our penance got from the father confessor and we started the seven prayers. During this time, we started to read spiritual books and we realized that God Lord blessed us with this trial for our salvation. We realized that we are not alone, that God, in his great mercy, gives us strength and guidance to go on His way. After two more prayers, God arranged that a team of three doctors to review the biopsy and to establish a new diagnosis of cancer, not as aggressive as the first one- fibromixosarcom. We continued to pray. I must tell you that after the surgery, my husband remained with a permanent discomfort, not too painful, but noticeable, located in the surged area. Having such a diagnosis, although at the beginning not willing to make any kind of treatment, the Good God “has prepared” everything: extraordinary doctors and radiotherapy solutions that did not put in danger the adjacent area from the surgery. We also prayed to St. Hierarch Nectarios to intercede to God my husband’s healing, we went to Radu Voda Monastery from Bucharest and we took holly oil from the candle that watches the relics of St. Nectarios.

Every evening I oiled my husband’s with this oil, making the Holy Cross sign above it, and praying to St. Nectarie and to God. Just before the 7th day of prayer (the last one), when my husband returned from a car trip, at a certain moment, someone took his pain. The pain disappeared like magic!!! He called me and, gripped by a strong emotion, we thanked God together for everything! It’s hard to say that he is totally healed, but I think that God gives us time for using it with the purpose of salvation.  It is been a year and a half form since, and the disease did not reappear. Immediately was the help of St. Hierarch Nectarios from Eghina. In the same time with appearance and growing of tumor that has been removed by surgery, another one appeared in my husband’s mouth. Worried about the first diagnosis and not finding a doctor to take care of its removal, the tumor remained only in the care of St. Nectarios, being oiled, every evening, with holy oil from the his candle. I was praying every time, thinking that I ask for the impossible, but hoping that God, through his Saints will make a miracle, making the tumor from my husband’s mouth disappear.

After six months of oiling the tumor and saying the same prayer, the miracle happened. It was the eve of St. Hierarch Nectarios celebration, 8th November, when, just before going to pray to St. Nectarios relics, chewing something, the tumor broke down, remaining hung in a thread. We got scared and personally, I decided that if my husband doesn’t want to go to the relics, I’ll go alone, being compulsory for me/us to pray to St. Nectarie and to thank for listening to my prayers. Feeling the same pleasant “obligation” my husband prepared several bandages (the bleeding was strong) and we went together to the holy relics.

Thanking to St. Hierarch Nectarie, we returned home with the thought that on the first Monday after the weekend to contact a doctor for removing the tumor. We could not wait any more.  During the night of 8-9th November, my husband, feeling in his mouth something like a rest from food, intending to chew it or to swallow it, he thought that it is something like a “rubber” and he throw it, putting it on the nightstand. He continued his sleep, not being fully awake. Next day in the morning, we realized that it wasn’t a remnant of food, but the tumor that he carried in his mouth for six months. We were amazed, excited and scared. I must say that I enjoyed very much seeing what my husband showed me very scared. I told him that this is a miracle made by St. Nectarios: „What other clearer proof to give use? “I prayed all the time as the tumor to be removed from that location and here is it: in the eve of its celebration he removed it without any medical intervention. We will do the biopsy, but I am sure that the result it will be good. Believe me, this is what I feel”

We went to an ENT doctor for giving us an opinion about the location of the tumor; he found that it still remained a very small piece of tumor, which was sent to biopsy; the result of the biopsy was very good (no cell cancer). One hour after the medical intervention, my husband called me for telling me: ”Do you know how it looked like the place of the tumor? It is incredible! No longer knowing it, it’s perfectly closed, even the color is the same. You can easily say that it was nothing there!”

Thank you Saint Hierarch Nectarios for help!. We found out on our own that the power of prayer is huge, that any trouble that God gives us is just a trial that we must receive it with our open souls and with faith that everything it is sent from above for our soul’s salvation and we must learn to have patience and hope as God, from his love, will not allow us to be alone and together with the prayers of Mary, His Blessed Mother and of all the saints, we can enjoy this life and especially the eternal life, in the kingdom of God. Praise God forever!

(Maria, Bucharest, 2008)

(Source: St Nectarie – Miracles from Romania – Egumenita Publishing)

Advices of Father Sofian Boghiu gathered from disciples testimonials

Some of the Father Sofian’s disciples still remeber fondly their spiritual father and the advices he used to gave. In few pages we will try to share with our readers some exhortations of the great spiritual confessor of Bucharest.

He always said to us to do charity. He said: “Give all you can, but give! Because charity is a great thing before God, erases many sins ! “. And sometimes he said to us: “Hey man, the charity lifts you up to heaven and God listens to your prayer”.

Father always asked us to give. This he loved: to be merciful. He said to us: “If you receive, give away. Even a small thing. If someone gives you a pretzel, and next to you sits someone just like you, a poor man, a brother of yours, break a piece of pretzel and give it to him. Because God is great and can fed you both from that piece.”

He also said: “When you give, do not feel sorry. Give joyfully because next to you is your guardian angel which writes your name in the book with good deeds. And if you are sorry he cannot write your name because you doubt in your heart. And God doesn’t like the doubts. God is right and good and wants all to be like Him.”

Father Sofian became very sad when he was hearing about women throwing away their children. He had tears in his voice and said: “You must be fasting every Wednesday and Friday with no drop of water, because you killed a human soul.”. He was so good that I cannot tell.

Father Sofian said: “During fasting is very important to forgive one another. You can die of hunger, it has no meaning your fasting, until you don’t reconcile with each other. Some do not speak for years. But they fast whenever it is said to. Oh, woe their fasting!”

Father told us many beautiful things about the Holy Communion. He always learned us something. He said to us that after the Holy Communion we must not speak, not get angry, not argue with no one, because the Holy Spirit is clean and good and He doesn’t stay in you if you cannot keep Him”.

Once we asked him: “Father, how long we must wait before receiving again the Holy Communion in order for the Holy Spirit to come to us?”, and he told us: “You must not hurry to receive the Holy Communion. Some come after 40 days, some after one month, some sooner. But I tell that the Holy Spirit remains within you as long as you don’t banish him. You don’t have to calculate the days, you must try to have a clean and good heart. And then the Holy Spirit is within you. “

Father was also funny. Once I asked him: “Father, do you want some coffee?”, but he told me: “What good is a coffee when my tooth hurts?” He knew to cheer you up and make you forget about all your worries.

Nobody, nobody, nobody left from him sad. He did not wound you; he does not make you angry. Sometimes we were standing on his had to listen to him until 11 o’clock in the night. And he said to us: “You must leave, you don’t have trams anymore!”, but we said: “Father we don’t want to leave!” “Well. Where do you want to sleep?” “Here on the ground of the Church”. And he didn’t get sad: “Well ok! But only this time!” And this happened many times and we all stayed.

He got upset on some people who made the charity to be seen by all people. he asked us not to be seen by anyone when we give, not to expect praises or beautiful words from those that we help. He took care of me all my life. I had many troubles, my mother was ill; the aliments were not really to be found. And he cried after me: “Ekaterina!” “Yes, father” “Stay a little bit more”. He had many people around him, putting questions to him….. He could not give me anything. But he kept his hands at his back, with full bags. He gave me when there was nobody around him. And what he didn’t put me? Oil, sugar, and so many things…and so I was leaving from there.

I was once in the kitchen, it was 11 o’clock in the night and I told him: “Father, come because the soup cools”, but he said to me gently: “Why do I need soup? What, do I live with soup?”.

He liked to fast. He was praying, reading and he painting icons. But he was eating only in the evening, a little piece of something. He was painting and he praying all day long. He didn’t like fashion. He was saying to women: “Don’t come to Church dressed like this so that others will turn the head at you. Don’t dress with brightly clothes! Don’t put make-up on you, don’t use lipstick, and don’t paint your hair. Because that means that you don’t believe that God made you beautiful, that He made a mistake which you want to correct. “

He was always saying: “Let go of fashion! Come to Church for praying!”.
Once a boy came to him and told him: “Father, I came to Church to find a wife” , and he answered to him: “I thought that you came to Church for praying, not for marrying. Come on, let it go! Pray and afterwards we will see what God wants with you.”. Also when we argued with fashion, he told us: “Let go of clothes that give birth to envy! You must come to the Church with clean and simple clothes!”

Father liked very much to teach us. We were sitting in the Church, he was removing from the Altar a chair and we, around him, on ground. Father loved canons. They were the ones from what he learned us and also from what he argued us.

“Father had the gift of miracle making. But I cannot tell about this. He saw. And he was speaking to you in the way God inspired him. He asked me once: “Are you a miss?” and I told him the truth. I lived for one month in sin. He told me: “Now no more with what it was before! From now on stay here and love the Church!” I didn’t need a man anymore and look, for 60 years I am only  with the Church. And I wasn’t alone. The Mother of God gave me everything, and the father took care about me. This was his gift which made miracles. He used to change completely your life.”

Love in the eyes of an Orthodox

And because in the article “There are no perfect children and neither are there perfect parents” I was saying that children have the right to live where there is love, I bring to your attention another perspective on love, a feeling so much sung and praised, but yet unknown in the true meaning of the word. I am suggesting you an Orthodox view…

“Love is a deeply human reality and of such complexity, that some give up all definitions, considering the words as useless and powerless. Love cannot be defined.  It is as mysterious as life. Hence the variety of the almost contradictory aspects of love. For the word “love” is the most fluid, the most complex, the vaguest and varied in meaning of all words.

It comprehends heaven and earth, soul and body, pureness and passion, nostalgia and instinct. For some, it is only instinct, even if it is clothed in the delusive veil of a pure ideal; for some, it is spiritual face, purely spiritual, which merges souls and unites them with God. For some it is a demonic power, through which a mysterious fascination is exerted over man in order to turn him into a blind instrument of his species, for others it is a ray from Paradise descending straight from God’s heart, in order to lift our life to perfection¹. Love is not just a feeling, as we are inclined to believe. It is more than that.

According to the Christian view, love springs from man’s very spiritual being. The person itself, in its essence, is love, that is the tendency to communion. God is love (1 John 4:8); the man, the image of God in the world, is love. That is why, due to his very being, he is predestined for communion, he cannot live alone, he cannot attain perfection on his own.

Love is ecstasy, that is self egression, so that by losing yourself into the other person, you could find yourself more completely. If unity is the aspiration of love, then duality is its necessary condition. It accomplishes a suprapersonal unity, in which the persons do not dissolve through communion, but attain fulfillment. This is the paradoxical power of love: that of uniting and at the same time preserving the individuality and bringing it to perfection. It is ‘unity within duality’. Love holds the nostalgia of eternity in itself.  It cannot conceive of separation. It gives the impression that the persons have been searching for each other and have belonged to each other since eternity, that they are predestined to belong to each other forever. Love is creative force. It brings to life the potentialities hidden within the human being and brings them up to date.  It dynamizes all energies and enriches one’s being and life, by intensifying it, fulfilling it, making it perfect. This dynamic, creative nature of love finds its expression in the love between spouses, besides the mutual self-abnegation and perfecting.

Love is creative: it calls to life, it creates life, it enriches life. The love which accomplishes the communion between husband and wife, calls necessarily for eternity or the indissolubility of this communion and its creative nature. There is a positive ratio between family love and God, since love and Christian family are steps towards God, as reflexes of transcendent realities. And God is spring and transfiguring power of life in the Christian family.

The life and soul of the Christian family is love. And it is love that God’s grandeur is reflected in. Love itself has something ‘deeply sacramental’, it is like the receipt of the Eucharist – only it is a receipt of the essences of life, where the creative breath of the Divinity can be sensed. In this personal communion, in this giving from one soul to another, one can sense the presence of God’s steps in the Christian’s soul. Because being a Christian means thinking with love, talking with love, working with love. Family is a community of love when its members strive to uproot all the vices in their lives and to embellish their souls with all the virtues which shine in the Person of Christ. It is a community of love only when it fulfills the words of the Apostle, who says: ‘love is long suffering, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it is not inflated, it is not discourteous, it is not selfish, it is not irritable, it does not enumerate the evil, it does not rejoice over the wrong, but rejoices in the truth. It covers all things, it has faith for all things, it hopes in all things, it endures in all things. Love never falls in ruins.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

The Christian family moulds its members through the warmth of love on whose altar self-giving – par excellence – is brought as offering. There is no other place where one can find the same resources of patience, love and self-abnegation as in parents.

The Christian family remains what it has always been. The sanctuary in which the azure flame of Orthodoxy burns ceaselessly. Of the Orthodoxy which is truth, of the Orthodoxy which is love.”

(Metropolitan Nicolae Mladin)

Translated by Claudia

Our liberty vs. God’s liberty

Yes, God did make man capable of taking decisions by himself in any situation, but man’s freedom doesn’t restrain God’s freedom. If man makes some choices as he pleases, so that the consequences of these choices do harm to others, that doesn’t mean that God can’t intervene somehow and limit the effects of these choices. God has a salvation plan for the whole world, particularized for each and everyone of us.

This salvation plan is not something which predestines people’s behaviour towards some particular choices, on the contrary, it is a plan which fits closely and every moment to the choices we make. In order to better understand this, this plan is not written on a piece of paper, it’s not already established, but it’s a dynamic plan. It’s like an intelligent software which constantly adapts itself to the choices people make.

Some twenty-thirty years ago, a power plant which provided hot water and electricity was monitored by many people from a control panel with lots of buttons and clocks, which indicated variations of different parameter. (pressure, temperature etc) Everytime there was a breakdown or a small problem, the guys from the control panel noticed it and sent the caretakers to the plant. Here, these workers closed and opened some taps, to increase or decrease the quantity of water, steam and gas, so that the power plant can be restored. Today, however, all is automated; that big control panel with hundreds of buttons and clocks has been replaced by a computer with intelligent software. This soft was created so it can take decisions by itself in case there are problems, to adjust everything by itself, to open valves, to close them, to increase or decrease temperature, to provide more energy or less, always adapting itself to what is going on in the plant. Engineers now only look at the computer’s screen, without doing anything, the software programme makes decisions by itself, it can even shut down the entire power plant in case of serious damage!

God’s salvation plan works in the same way, with an intelligent software programme which makes decisions according to variation of external factors.

God intervenes in the world in every second and not even a hair can move without His will, so says our Savior in the Bible. Everything takes place under his eyes and the evil things some people do can’t stop God from doing as He pleases, on the contrary, He can turn the tables and create good from the evil.

In the New Testament, man and his passion are often discussed, as well as the way he has to manage the battle with himself, the way in which God intervenes in our personal life. In the Old Testament, however, God’s interventions in the life of people, external politics, in the relations between some armies and countries are often mentioned subjects.

We, today, in a secularized world think that population is in the hands of great powers or international interest groups, but we forget that Christ is always present at each transaction, at each negotiation, at each decision the rulers of the world take. He is never surprised, He takes decisions which limit the effects of some bad choices, thus confirming the salvation plan from the creation of the world.

Here is a quote from the Bible, from Daniel’s book (chapter 2, verse 37):

“You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory; 38 and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold. 39 But after you shall arise another kingdom inferior to yours; then another, a third kingdom of bronze, which shall rule over all the earth. 40 And the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron, inasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and shatters everything; and like iron that crushes, that kingdom will break in pieces and crush all the others”

Notice how the Holy Bible speaks about a pagan king, who hasn’t got a clue about God’s existence, a king who worships golden and wooden statues, but a king that’s been given a kingdom from God. The king is Nabucodonosor, the king of Babylon, one of the biggest empires in history. Do you really think one could now become president of any country without God’s will? No way. But that doesn’t mean that God approves of all the president’s choices and deeds, it only shows that fact that God can influence the world even if we are free, without restricting our choices.

Here is another quote, where the same thing is discussed, in the First Book of Chronicles (chap. 10, vers. 13-14):

“So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.”

Here you can also notice how God sets things up so that the ruling of a state is given to whom He wants. Also, in this book, at chapter 22, vers 18:

“Is not the LORD your God with you? And has He not given you rest on every side? For He has given the inhabitants of the land into my hand, and the land is subdued before the LORD and before His people.”

Here we can see how God takes care of His people, by keeping away the neighbouring people who want to attack them. In the external politics of the world, nothing happens without His will.

Here is another example from the Deuteronomy (chap.2, verse. 9):

““Then the LORD said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.”

In this verse, we can see how God establishes the territorial limits of each state.

We’ve accustomed ourselves to thinking that God limits Himself only to sins, passions, or church-related things, but we forget that He is the creator of all the seen and the unseen things. If we, narrow-minded, perceive things at a micro level, that doesn’t mean God is also like this. We believe that God intervenes only sporadically, in some people’s lives, because we have little faith. If we were wiser, more open-minded, if our passions wouldn’t render us blind, we would understand that the world is in God’s hands.

Fear not, for God, The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit is always near us, with the good people, with the bad people, it’s up to us to feel His presence and His help.

Nothing happens without his will, the good as well as the bad, don’t ever forget this!

(Written by Claudiu, translated from romanian by Costin)

SWOT analysis and the Confession

What is SWOT analysis? For those who don’t know, the explanations below will clarify things, and for those who know, the explanations will be a reminder of the achieved knowledge. SWOT analysis represents one of the most important management tools used in “X-raying” a commercial society or an organization and it consists in realizing an internal analysis, in order to see the strengths and the weaknesses, followed by an external analysis, that focuses on the most relevant opportunities and risks of the studied society or organization.

SWOT represents the acronym for the words “Strengths”, “Weaknesses”, “Opportunities” and “Threats”. The first two regard the company and they reflect its situation, and the next two refer to the external environment and reflect its impact on the activity of the company.

(S) The strengths of the company are distinctive characteristics it possesses at a superior level, compared to other companies, meaning activities that the firm realizes better than its competitors or resources that it has and that are better than those of other companies. The strengths of a society can be: superior products (qualitatively speaking) that it possesses, prices that would ensure a decent income, powerful systems of promoting its own image and others.

(W) The weaknesses of the company are those characteristics that determine lower performances than those of its competitors. They represent activities that the company doesn’t achieve at the level of other companies or resources that it needs but doesn’t possess them. These kinds of weak points can be given by the insufficiently trained staff or the poor technical equipment of the company.

(O) Opportunities represent external positive factors for the company, or chances given to the company, in order to establish a new strategy or to reconsider the existent strategy with the purpose of profitably exploiting the opportunities that appear. For example, an opportunity can be a new market that the society hasn’t entered yet and the request for the commercialized products appears to be quite big after prospecting the market.

(T) Threats are external negative factors for the company, or situations or events that can disadvantage the capacity of the firm to fully accomplish the established objectives, determining the decrease of its economic and financial performances. A threat can be, for example, the instable legislative conditions, an aggressive fiscal politic of the state or other external factors.

Now, knowing what SWOT analysis means, we can ask the question that we have from the beginning of the subject: what is the connection between SWOT analysis and the Confession, which would give us a real benefit?

It really exists, but, because most of the times we don’t try to enter the deepness of the Confession, we lose the bigger perspective of things. The Confession, the renewal and the sanctification of the human being, comprises all the benefits of SWOT analysis, but in a spiritual plan, of course. Most of the times, when we perform a self-evaluation before going to confess, we only accentuate the weaknesses and the threats, neglecting almost completely the self-evaluation of the strengths and the value of the opportunities. All the sins that we make and all the sufferance represent our weaknesses (W) and the temptations that we confront daily are actually the threats (T) to the possibility of saving our souls. With these two coordinates in our mind we go to the priest, we confess, we repent for our inabilities and we leave relieved that we got the forgiveness for our sins.

However, not after a long time from the confession, we begin to give in, step by step, to the same sins, until we get to the same frequency of committing them, thus without bringing an improvement to our sinful being. That is why, in time, we begin to repeat the confession in a routine and without the hope of making spiritual progresses and being the same humans caught in our inabilities. Why do all these happen? Why we seem to be in the same spot? Because we only do a half-job. We accentuate only the weaknesses and temptations and never on our strengths and the surrounding opportunities. It happens to be on the same spot because we don’t have perspectives and future plans regarding our spiritual live. We don’t establish a goal (a target) to reach together with God. We don’t establish a plan to escape a sufferance or to develop a virtue.

And we don’t do these things because we don’t do a complete self-evaluation and we don’t value our good points, our virtues. It is important to find out what real virtues we have and we can do this only without being tempted to over-evaluate ourselves in a demonic pride. And if we know what virtues we have, then with humility and a just judgment we will be able to multiply them in order to develop even more our love to God and the others near us.

Whoever knows that is merciful with the poor should increase the mercifulness, who is patient with the defects of the other should increase the patience, who is gentle in speaking should comfort and give hope to those hopeless in order to increase his/her gentleness. Any virtue (strength) that we have, we shouldn’t let it to dry and be lost, but to enlarge it even more so that after that our heart would enlarge too and comprise more virtues that will complete our love.

Then, it should be known that we don’t have perspectives in our spiritual life because we don’t analyze the opportunity to spiritually enrich ourselves. We look at almost everything in terms of “weaknesses” and “threats”, without looking also in terms of “strengths” and “opportunities”. But if we analyze better the social, psychological and economical environment that we live in, we will realize that we have a multitude of opportunities to clean our souls and to be spiritually fruitful. A parent, a spouse or a brother with whom I don’t get along christianly represents an opportunity to learn to be forgiving and loving. A stressful job, with a tense working atmosphere, is an opportunity to learn gentleness and patience. A hard material situation is an opportunity to increase my faith and hope in God’s help. All these opportunities are our daily chance to be merciful as the widow in the Gospel and strong in faith as the Canaan woman. All these opportunities and strengths help us to improve spiritually, to not stagnate, to get closer to God and to our brothers’ hearts, but for this we first need to be aware of them and then to put them into practice, supported by God and our priest’s guidance.

The spiritual “management” that we receive from our priest during the confession is essential for not having a “bankrupted” soul. There are many that thought they can travel through this life without advice and spiritual guidance, but later they entered with their souls in debts (the sufferance after the sin) making then the biggest mistake: to take the balance of the soul from minus to plus, from sufferance to accomplishment, sealing the deal with soul collectors, meaning the devils, losing then even what they thought they still have. This is why we have to always have a plan and a future perspective for saving our souls, as God left it in this world.

Therefore, the confession in front of our priest is not only accentuating the factors of sufferance and temptation, but also accentuating the increasing of the existent virtues and valuing the opportunities to grow spiritually, having as a permanent milestone overcoming the old person in us. The Confession, just like SWOT analysis in economics, is a complete X-ray of the existent situation, meant to show in the light of the conscience the real state of the soul, in order to know what we have to correct and develop until the accomplishment.

We should be more often aware that the Mysteries of the Church comprise all the mysteries of this world, whether we encounter them in economics, psychology, mathematics, arts or in other sciences, and not only this, but much more. Because the Mysteries of the Church are not only for this world, but they are a bridge between the earth that we temporarily live on and the heaven in which we want to live forever.

(Razvan)