Posts Tagged With: corfu

My Miraculous Meeting With St.Spyridon

SPYRIDON

St.Spyridon lived somewhere between the latter part of the 2nd and early part of the 3rd century.

He was at the first ecumenical council of Nicea and was instrumental in the arguments against Arius.

Originally from Cyprus and buried there, when the Arabs took Cyprus he was removed from the grave to be taken to Constantinople where they witnessed he was incorrupt. In his hand was a scent of Basil indicating true sainthood.

After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, his relics were removed by a Corfiate monk to the island of Corfu where they remain to this day in St.Spyridon Church.

One of his miracles during his lifetime was calling forth rain during a time of drought. This is where it got interesting for me.

An Orthodox Priest and friend of mine learned that I was in Corfu via facebook and highly recommended I visit this church and venerate the Saints relics. He noted that the relics are not always there due to them being moved around a lot and when he was there some years ago they were not present.

Eventually we made our way through the Venetian cobbled streets until we landed upon the Church. I took some pictures of the boys outside in front of the icon of the saint.

From there we entered and there was a short enough queue and to my surprise the relics were present with two priests at either side. Before I entered everyone was quiet. When me and Christian entered the priests began to chant ”Kyrie Eleison”.

I wasn’t sure what to kiss and didn’t realise that the priest opened the Casket for me to kiss the Saint so instead I kissed the Casket as did my son Christian.

That was all good and so we decided to go around the corner to the byzantine Museum which was an old Church now in disuse but everything still in place just used as a Museum for Icons.

I wanted to go back and buy an Icon in the shop directly across the road from St.Spyridons Church and so we headed back that way.

The woman in the shop kept me there for quite a considerable time. By the time my wife came along she was waiting on me and obviously does not share the same enthusiasm as I do for the Orthodox icons or churches so she’s impatient and wanting to leave.

She approaches me and said ”Stephen you need to hurry it up, dark clouds are gathering and it looks like it could actually rain.”

I kept calm and allowed the lady to finish showing me all her icon collection. Then a seriously heavy down pour of rain and hailstones began. It was so heavy I’d never seen anything like it not even in Ireland. The rain was so thick, heavy and chunky. You could hear it just slam into the ground.

I wanted so desperately to visit the Church again with my icons but I knew Audrey wouldn’t have it and so whilst in the shop and anxious about these things it began to rain.

I said to my wife I want to touch the icons off the casket of St.Spyridon and in this way have them blessed. We might as well go over to the Church and inside there because we are blocking entry to the shop.

The woman approached me and said ”This is such unusual weather for this time of year but it shouldn’t last long”. But it did, a whole three hours.

I was delighted to be back in the Church. This time I actually peered in and saw his face with his little skull-cap and vestments all still on him.

It was at this moment that the Saint revealed to me that it was him who, calling forth the rain all those years ago to end the drought, had called forth the rain yet again that I may have my icons blessed and venerate him once more.

Whilst I stood there, the rain plummeting from the heavens, to many it was an inconvenient moment where they had to refrain from shopping and it ended their day out in Corfu. To me however, I stood there in the church with a gleeful smile on my face knowing who it was that called forth the rain and hailstone.

It was an undeserved grace for a rotten little sinner like me. It almost seems prideful to even assume that the Saint would accommodate just one speck of dust such as myself with all the problems going on in the world but I was convinced that this miracle was simply God’s simplicity shining forth giving me the time I really needed to soak up the experience of venerating one of the churches greatest ever saints that lived.

 

 

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The Modern Prodigal Son

I’ve just arrived home from holidays in Corfu, Greece. On our last day there I took the kids for a drive to Agios Ioannis to visit Aqua land, the second largest water park in Europe.

Going down the slide was so enjoyable and I really loved the thrill of it.

Climbing up the stairs to experience the thrill again was not hard at all and, like a gazelle I had a spring in my step to climb the 100 foot stair case to have another go.

After a while though, I became tired both mentally and physically. Eventually I became discontent with it altogether and as I was climbing the stairs I thought much about how the sins and vices of this life are much the same.

In my youth, (at 32 I’m still young by the way ok?) I loved the thrill of going out and finding a woman to have sex with. The whole act of seduction and the accomplishment of getting her into bed was so great I’d look to do it every weekend.

The same occurred whenever I met with alcohol. Even the sins of anger, when they arose I enjoyed this too. I loved to argue and fight with others over trivial things.

However, after some time, like the prodigal son who had plenty to eat, pretty soon I began to run out of steam like he did his money.

I became hungry for a different kind of food but not even the scraps of the worldly philosophy, Buddhism or Hinduism could satisfy me yet I ate them anyway. I was so tired of the transient vice I found myself stuck in that these fed me for some time.

After time had passed and I became even more tired, the Lord came to me and brought me back to Christianity. I heard his call and of my own free will I came home to him.

Sin is enjoyable but it is not long lasting. We may repeat it time after time but there will come a moment in a mans life when he hungers for something much greater than himself and his sins.

He may look deep inside himself and hear the call and heed it, or ignore it. Although the Lord will often bring home those who never sought him, such a thing is rare. It is more likely that the person who seeks the Lord will find the Lord as long as he resolved to endure in his search.

The Lord is always watching for those who seek him, not through worldly arguments or even religious ones (I.e my doctrines are greater than yours) but those who seek out a relationship with him.

Those who are just looking for proof or to take a peek behind the curtain will never find him because God does not approach the wise.

Those who seek him through some sort of theological argument (I’m not speaking of those who ask questions) will likewise not find him because again, the Lord does not approach the proud and wise.

Those however seeking the Lord for the sake of the Lord himself and to develop a relationship with him because they have become tired of the transient things of this world have more of a chance of finding the Lord or that the Lord will approach and open the door to them.

To be brought back to Christianity is a grace of God and His grace is reserved for those whom he pleases but especially those who seek him with an honest, open and contrite heart because like a clean woman will not tolerate a dirty house, the Holy Spirit will not tolerate a dirty soul and be unlikely to make it his home.

We sin, we enjoy it, we sin again, we enjoy it again. There comes a time however when through the prayers of the Church and the saints, a man in this state will be given the grace necessary to begin a journey on the way….the way home. Like a man whose legs cramp after a days walking in the hot sun, the soul and it’s intellect will likewise begin to experience it’s own cramps and long for the cure to these.

When this longing will happen is up to both the soul and God himself through the prayers of those of us in the Church.

Many however are quite content with the sinful life they lead. For these people only the Grace of God can touch them through both his own will and our prayers. How do I know? Because I too was once indulged in such a frame of mind. It takes one to know one so they say right? Well I was one, my guardian angel is confident I’m still one and have a lot of work to do.

Up next….I talk about my encounter with the relics of St.Spyridon in Corfu town, Greece last week.

 

 

 

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