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Τρίτη, 20 Απριλίου 2021

The Mother of God Monastery founded by Elder Epiphanios.





    The Mother of God Monastery founded by Elder Epiphanios.   

 

In December of 1982 he developed cancer of the stomach and had surgery. He was barely fifty. Three quarters of his stomach were removed and in 1988 he had a second operation and he reposed on November 10, 1989 at fifty-eight. Before he died he wrote out the instructions for his funeral—where to be buried, what to write on his tombstone, etc. He lay in state at his Three Holy Hierarchs chapel, then was moved to a very beautiful church that he loved near the chapel, then to his monastery in the Peloponnese, which is where he was buried. On his tomb, which is white marble, he had 1 Tim. 1:15 written: This is a trustworthy statement, worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief. That’s his life—an absolutely beautiful man.

 

In the remaining few minutes I want to share a number of his teachings which I think you’ll find inspiring. He used to say that love, which is the primary characteristic proving an authentic Christian faith, is self-multiplying, just like a candle lights another candle without diminishing. There’s no diminishing when you share love. He was also very tough. In the city a lot of people wanted to find ways to justify themselves. A woman brought her young pregnant but unmarried daughter to Fr. Epiphanios, thinking she could convince him to bless am abortion. He listened to the woman explaining about how they have no money and the father isn’t around and this would ruin her life and the obvious course was to have an abortion, and so on. He looked at the woman, took off his stole and hung it on the wall, and leaned over to her and said “Can you do me a favor,and look at my forehead? Do you see the word ‘IDIOT’ written on my forehead?” She said no and he said, “Get out of my chapel before I scorch you with the holy canons for the rest of your life.” How appropriate. He had the love of Christ and also the courage and prophetic nature of Christ, to do such a thing. What a man.

 

He loved kids and often gave parenting advice, saying that they needed to talk to God more about their kids than to their kids about God, which St Porphyrios used to say too. He said that when someone is free he has rights and responsibilities, but when he gets married he has few rights and very many responsibilities. Then when he has children he has no rights and only responsibilities. How true. He also said that married Christians need to go to church early on Sunday mornings, because we pray Orthros for the faithful, not for the chairs. One time a woman came to him, and in her Confession she talked all about her daughter-in-law’s sin, who she was very upset with. It kept going and going, so he took off his stole, without reading the prayer of forgiveness. She asked him whether he was going to read it, and he said, “Absolutely, just send me your daughter-in-law and I’ll read it right away.”

 

He was once asked about how to find a holy spiritual father. This is a very relevant teaching today because many Orthodox in America somehow think that you can’t be saved without a God-bearing elder. A theologian told the elder that he was having difficulty finding a suitable spiritual elder, and he said, “My beloved, you don’t have a problem with an elder, you have a problem with yourself. If you had a problem with an elder you would go out on the street, turn right, walk a hundred meters, turn left, walk another fifty meters, and stop and wait there until the first spiritual father walked by. You would do undiscerning obedience and have neither a problem with an elder nor with your own salvation. It is not holy fathers that we are in need of, as much as holy obedience. Did all the great saints of the Church have a particular holy elder? No. What they did have was holy humility and holy obedience and for this reason also they became holy.” It’s a beautiful word to us about what we really need.

 

Once a woman who had confessed to Elder Epiphanios for the very first time told him she would have preferred to have confessed to a spiritual father who was elderly and blind. So he said to her, “And he if were deaf it would be even better!”

   

He said God has provided family dynamics that have to be governed by patience and tolerance. Rubber tires have inner tubes so that the car won’t fall apart on a bumpy road. The same thing happens when members of a family yield to the wishes of each other. This way we surpass many problems without falling apart. You just have to learn how to bump and move whenever you have a little conflict in the family. He used to praise couples who had a fifth child. When he did Baptisms of a fifth child he would give a sermon on martyrdom, saying any family that would embrace a fifth child is embracing a small martyrdom, and that God would certainly help them in a unique way. Once he was asked how he could justify refusing to become a bishop, as he could have done so much more good as a bishop. He said, “Through my counseling and Confession I’ve been able to convince many families who were only going to have one or two children to have one more.” That’s how precious and important he thought children were.

 

Once someone asked him if he felt inferior when people younger and with less qualifications became bishops and he said, “Oh, child, why should I feel like that? What am I lacking? The crown on my head? I was never jealous of these things, nor do they suit me. I’m not lacking anything. I’m a priest and I perform the Sacraments. I bless the bread and wine and they become the Body and Blood of Christ. I read the prayer of forgiveness over the believer and his sins are wiped out. I join a couple in common life. I do everything. They only thing I don’t do is ordain. However that is an advantage, not a disadvantage. If you only knew what a responsibility the bishops have, that they will give an account before Christ for the ordinations they perform.”

 

He was once asked if he ever saw a vision, and he said, “Oh, my child, no, nor do I ever wish to see one. The only thing I want to see are my sins.” He was also asked if he’d seen miracles. “Miracles? Nothing but. The greatest miracle which I have seen is that God came down to earth to save me, the most sinful of people.”

 

He was many times seen burdened by his labor of love, pastoring, and someone said to him, “Elder I see that today you are distressed,” and he answered to him, “And what day am I not? The problems of the Church and of my spiritual children are my won. My heart only has entrances. It has no exists. My worst hell is to realize that i have saddened a beloved person.” Wow! Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos. What a man, what a gift from God in His great love to us! God bless you for listening and being saturated with this wonderful man.

 

Question: Is there a reason he chose to remain celibate? Was he actually a monk?

 

He was a monk-priest, and he said he never thought of anything else since he was little. But you see what an authentic monk he is. You can’t be an authentic monk unless you love marriage. He loved marriage and he loved family life so much, and that proved that his monasticism was not a deprecation of marriage, but a deep appreciation and a love offering of his whole energy to God, and that’s what makes a true monk. The fathers of the Church say that if you’re a monk because you think something’s wrong with marriage, you are no monk; you’re a heretic. If marriage is not holy and blessed, then what you’re doing is not an offering to God, but it’s a must, because there’s no other way to live. But it’s not. Marriage is blessed by God, which means that giving up the great happiness of marriage so that you can completely dedicate yourself to God’s service, which is what he did, as a true monk, is the harder path.



 

 

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