As far is the sky from earth, this much surpass us, the sinners, the saints pleased to God; they are heavenly beings – we are flesh; they are saints – we are filled with the multitude of sins; they loved God from all their heart, with all their strength, hating themselves and the world – we love with an extreme enthusiast ourselves and the world; we love all its soul losing things and contrary to God; saints aquired a heavenly mind, a heavenly heart, a heavenly will, they loved God’s will and defeated their own bodily, damaged will– we are flesh and defile our heart and will, all our spiritual impulses and inclinations.
Therefore, every Christian should stand in reverence before the Saints, to honor with the proper honour and with which God Himself has glorified them for their dignity. Seek to follow their life, their faith; remember their fiery love for God and neighbor and your heart will be filled with passionate love and eternal hope. Always endeavour after where the eternal Love is, Who loves everything, where is the eternal True and Sanctity, there where is life and eternal praise and everlasting joy of the saints.
In church icons are painted with the face of the saints commemorated at the Divine Liturgy, Proscomidy (the preparation of the offerings)and to the Liturgy of the faithfull. Saints were messengers and prophets of our faith. They sealed the truth and the saving gift of faith with their blood, with countless tortures and with death, great ascetism, with fast and pray. They pray God for us. Saints are eternal witnesses of the true faith and of its power of life making in the most terrible tortures and under threat of death; they are the pillars of the Church around which they raise walls with their prayers, praise and glory to God.
(St. John of Kronstadt)
You tell me that you can not understand how it happens that the saints from Heaven hear us when we pray. But how is that the sunrays overrun us everywhere and that they shine over the Earth? In the spiritual world, the saints are what the sun’s rays are in the material Universe. God is the eternal sun, life giving, Saints are the rays of this Sun. As the eyes of God eternely watch the Earth and the children of earth, so the eyes of Saints are; they may not look there where the providentially way of God is watching and where are their treasures (their bodies, their deeds, their saint places and their honorings). “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart’. (Matthew 6, 21)
You know that your heart can quickly see, far away and clearly (especially those of the spiritual world). You see this especially in the spiritual things, where many things can be perceived only by faith (by the sight of the heart). The heart is the eyesight of our being. The cleaner, that can see further, quickly and clearly. The eye of saints of God has reached the ultimate stage of purity available to human in the spirituality since the lifetime, and after death, when they united with God, their ability of seeing became clearer, more comprehensive, by divine grace. That’s why the saints can see very clearly, comprehensively and deeply. They see our spiritual needs. They see and hear all those who call them from heart, namely all those whose inner eyes are turned toward them and who don’t doubt or believe, who are in despair and darkness. When they call the saints, when the beseeching eyes meet – to say so – the eyes of those to whom they pray, it’s a mystic meeting.
The one who has gained such an experience can understand me. This explains why communication with saints can be done so easily. All you have is to clean the eye of your heart, turn it calmly toward the saint you know, to ask what you want to ask and you shall receive. All in Him is viewing, holiness, knowledge. The earth and the sky and all places are full of Him, He sees everything and everywhere. “The eyes of God are everywhere, watching over the good ones and the wicked.” (Proverbs of Solomon 15.3).
Saint John of Krondstadt – My life in Christ
Between the saints of God, the first I got acquainted as a young child was Saint Nicholas. In my grandparents’ house we had a large icon with this Saint, just above my bed. And I used to watch it in the evening before falling asleep; strongly believing that God is there. I sometimes wondered why Lord Christ has a white beard in my icon. Later I learned that God has good friends, Saints, and that face I thought it was God’s face, actually was the face of St. Nicholas.
Then, when I learned that Saint is the patron of children, I prayed hard to be my defender, too. And with my mind of child, I asked him to give me a sign if He agrees to accept me also in his care. I do not remember what I asked as a sign, but I know that I enjoyed much when the Saint answered “yes”, He wanted to be my defender, after the agreement I had done with him.
Now I am no longer a child, I grew up and also has grown my unworthiness, but St. Nicholas, gentle and good still guards me, and comes with mercy to help me when I ask Him, even though I often forget Him.
And last night I called Him. I was to go in the station, during the night, to wait for a package that was coming from home. The first time the bus passed through the town where I live, I missed the opportunity to take my package because the car passed without stopping. So I decided this time to leave around 1 am, and stay until it reaches the station. The driver told me that he can reach at 1:30 but may be in the station also at 4. I was afraid to go alone, I knew that during the night many guys go out on the streets by cars and scream if they see a girl and I also had to pass through a part of the town where prostitutes (poor girls) are waiting for customers. So I asked Saint not to let me, to come with me; I took in my pocket an icon with my defender Saint.
The road to the station was quiet. Until we arrived I repeated all the time, “Saint Nicholas, help me!” It was very, very cold, and no one came out on the street. In front of the station … also quiet. Station … closed. I sat on a concrete terminal. I wanted to be attentive to the noises around me, but the strong wind was hissing through the leaves covering even the noise of an engine of a car.
I took the icon of the Saint in my hands and ask him to be with me. I stayed for a few moments looking down. When I lifted my head, before me to 3 feet were two young men, dressed in black, approaching to me. They stopped in front of me. Black hood was covering their head and I saw only their faces. They asked me if I live in town and if I know where they can go to drink something. I said them I am from the town and that there is no open bar at that hour. I feared not to notice because of my accent that I am a foreign. But Saint Nicholas protected me and after few moments the young left.
I crouched in a corner of the station. I was somehow sheltered than when sitting on the terminal. This greatly reduced the range of my vision. After about 20 minutes after leaving of the two men, two other men came from a corner and approached me. They were drunk … bearly speaking. They sat in front of me so I didn’t have where to go. In that moment Saint Nicholas strengthened me hard and I went among them. I felt in my heart that the Saint of Christ would certainly not let me alone. And I turned toward the parking lot. I stood some time hidden there under a tree, until I saw that the two were also going toward the parking place. I ran between the cars but I noticed at one point that parking was surrounded by walls and there was nowhere to run. The only chance to get out of the there was to pass right through their face at a distance of about 15 meters. And that portion was occupied by cars. I called St. Nicholas and I asked Him to cover their eyes not to see me. Oh … and they didn’t see me.
I returned in the corner of the station, waiting. Soon someone came to open the station and people came to train. When the truck arrived, uh … I was glad to see those people. They invite me in the truck to warm me and drove me about a third of the way home. Then, thinking of St. Nicholas I started walking , then I arrived home all right.
I wanted to tell you not to hide the help that Saint Nicholas gives to those who calls Him. I also was unworthy as I didn’t pray him for a long time, but the Saint had mercy on me.
Thank you, Saint Nicholas, great miracle worker, and by you I bring gratitude to God and His Mother.
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.”
As distant is the sky from the earth, as much we, the sinners, are competed by the Saints that are pleasant to God; they are celestial beings – we are earthly ones; they are saints – we are full of our many sins; they loved God from all their heart, with all their strength, hating themselves and the world – we love ourselves and the world with an extreme passion; we love all its things that loose the souls and are adversary with God; they acquired a celestial mind, a celestial heart, a celestial will, catching love for God’s will and defeating their own will, bodily, broken, damaging – we were earthly and trashed our mind, heart and will, all our impulses and inclinations from our souls.
For these reasons, each Christian must stay piously before the Saints, to honor them with the honor that they deserve and with which God Himself glorified them as worthy and try to follow their life and faith; because remembering their ardent love for God and for the neighbor, his heart to fill with ardent love and living hope, to aspire always for there where it is the eternal Love, that loves all, where is the eternal Truth and the Holiness, there where it is eternal life and eternal doxology and eternal joy of the saints.
In the church the saints named in the Liturgy are painted on the icons; the ones that were the messengers and prophets of our faith; the ones that sealed the truth and the saving gift of our faith with their blood, with countless tortures and death, with great labors, with fasting and prayer and which pray boldly to God for us – eternal witnesses of the faith’s truth and of its power to give life in the greatest tortures and under the threat of death, forever steadfast pillars of the Church around which they fly walls of prayers, the glory and the ornaments of the Church.