Dear Friends of the Mission,
It is an undoubted fact that by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos, many of God’s countless blessings derive from the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy, this sacred service which helps the whole universe, which is the most powerful prayer that exists, which unites Heaven with Earth.
We praise Almighty God for in the third world country of Malawi where we serve, with the blessings of our Bishop and our Patriarch, the 25 priests of our Mission have truly loved the Divine Liturgy and perform it quite often. As a result, along with the frequent group baptisms that are conducted , little by little, Orthodoxy is spreading across the country.
Of course, this spread of faith is not easy or unimpeded; on the contrary, it encounters plenty of problems and goes through trials and tribulations, but in the end with God’s intervention, everything is resolved as the wicked devil is not allowed to tease more. Therefore, I could say that what we live is a continuous miracle, thanks to God’s infinite love, but also thanks to your prayers.
We have realized, however, that frequent Divine Liturgies are very helpful in whatever we do. The more often we perform or attend one, the more blessings and benefits we will be granted.
After the Divine Liturgy, comes the Paraklesis Service (Supplicatory Canon) to the Most Holy Theotokos, which we have found greatly beneficial. In the Orthodox Church Mission in Malawi it is conducted daily after the Vespers; in fact, it has been translated into chichewa, which is the local dialect. Our Lady often shows us how much she is delighted with it through facts. When, for example, problems are solved, when we feel her protection and affection so close to us, when she stops the temptation that comes on furiously and wants to break everything apart, we understand that our intercessions and supplications work. And with even more zeal and enthusiasm, all our priests in every corner of Malawi, sing the Paraklesis to the Theotokos with deep faith and love. And if we have Our Lady near us, what could possibly scare us?
How important it is to read an intercessory prayer every day can also be understood by this: Once, a saintly man said that St. John the Baptist presented himself to him holding a book with the service of Paraklesis to the Theotokos and showed it to him saying: “Here’s the book you should use. Read the intercessory prayers, especially if you have problems, and they will be solved.”
On the one hand, my dear brothers and sisters, the daily Divine Liturgy, on the other, the afternoon Paraklesis Services, this is how problems can be solved and how God’s blessing can come to us…
And this can certainly happen not only within Mission, but also in each one of us individually. My beloved brothers, this is the only solution to the deadlocks of our homeland Greece, which are varied -moral, social, spiritual, financial. With prayer and repentance, in a very short period of time the situation can change and we will be able to move from Crucifixion, which we are going through now, to the Resurrection. We will see our people resurrected, able to help other peoples and disseminate Orthodoxy to the four corners of the earth.
But there is something else that we need to be careful about. Especially nowadays that there is a tendency to alter and distort our holy faith and mix it up with other doctrines, we must be on the alert, both clergy and lay people We need to keep our holy Orthodoxy genuine, unaltered, untouchable, and we should not engage in any activity associated with heretical doctrines. On the one hand, we love all humanity, but on the other, we do not want any relation with any other faith they have. As Saint Cosmas of Aetolia said, all religions are fake and false, only one is the true, genuine Church, the Holy Orthodoxy.
Here in Malawi we go by these principles: praying and guarding Our Faith. Keeping them has made us worthy to see great blessings, since we have no virtues such as those of the saints, yet, the Most Merciful God is very touched by those who guard our Faith firmly and with fervent spirit and those who regard prayer as their prime and foremost concern.
The same spirit, as I said before, characterizes all of our priests in Malawi. Besides, every 2 months, there are 5-day theological seminars held all over the country, and these 5 days, we say and do a lot of useful things. A worth mentioning example is that of Fr. George from the parish of Sts. Athanasius and Cyril in Zomba, Malawi. He is a native priest with plenty of pure, selfless love inside him. In a very short time his congregation has grown large enough to fill the church, and there are still new people coming to embrace Orthodoxy.
In a group baptism that was taking place in his church, during the Holy Mystery, a disabled woman threw away the crutches and immediately became well. Another miraculous event is the following. Every night, between 12 and 2 o’clock am, the time when Fr. George rises in order to pray, that is, make prostrations, read the Lord’s prayer and do his penance, his neighbor, who woke up every night at that time to go to his work as a night-watchman, saw heavenly light bathing the priest’s house while he was doing his penance. Our poor finances made us leave his house without a power supply, so it was clear where that celestial light was coming from. This man asked to be baptized, realizing where the truth is.
These are only few of the little miracles we are living in the Mission here in Malawi. We are deeply grateful to our Sweet Jesus and to Our Lady, for though we have no virtues, they are constantly close to us, they are covering us protectively, they act and intervene miraculously and assist and guide us all the time. When, for example, we run out of money, something comes at the last minute, and it is just as much as we need to keep the Mission moving. His Providence does not abandon us. That’s why I said from the beginning that we are living a permanent miracle.
The hearts of all our neophytes are overflowing with gratitude, thanksgiving and praise, to Almighty God. How could one not be grateful and not appreciate or understand His infinite donations … and that is true for all of us.
Saint Paisios said, «We should live in a climate of continuous praise and thanksgiving to God».
Therefore, praise, thanksgiving and gratitude for everything! Amen.
Fr. Ermolaos Iatrou