"In whatever city you enter, say peace to that city."
OUR LORD AND GOD, JESUS CHRIST, my brethren, the sweetest ruler and master, the creator of angels and of all intelligible and perceptible creation, was moved by the great goodness which he has for our race and granted us and continues to grant us every day, hour, and moment an infinite number of gifts. In addition to these, he condescended and became perfect man by the Holy Spirit and from the purest blood of our Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, so that we might escape from the hands of the devil and become sons and heirs of his kingdom, to rejoice forever in paradise together with the angels, and not to burn in hell with the impious and the demons.
The Mission of the Apostles
JUST AS A RULER HAS VINEYARDS and fields and hires workers,
so the Lord who has the entire world as a vineyard took twelve Apostles and gave them his grace and blessing and sent them to the entire world to teach people how to live well here on earth, in peace, with love, and later to go to paradise to rejoice forever. [He sent them to teach people] to repent, to believe, and to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and to have love for God and for their brother. Wherever the Apostles went and were made welcome by people, the Lord instructed them to bless that land, and whatever place they went and were not received, the Lord instructed them to shake off the dust even from their shoes and to depart.
Thus receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit, the holy Apostles, as wise and faithful servants of our Christ, ran as lightning throughout the entire world. With that grace they healed the blind, the deaf, the lepers, and those possessed by demons. And the greatest of all, in the name of our Christ they commanded the dead and they did rise. In whatever land the holy Apostles went and were received by people, they made them Christians, they ordained bishops and priests, they established churches, and they blessed that land so that it became an earthly paradise, filled with joy and gladness, a habitation of angels, a dwelling place of our Christ. But in whatever place they went where they were not received by people, he instructed them to shake off the dust from their shoes, and a curse instead of a blessing remained in that land, a residence of the devil and not of our Christ.
The Life and Mission of Father Kosmas
IT IS MEET AND PROPER FOR A TEACHER, when he wants to teach, to first know who his audience is, and similarly for them to examine what kind of teacher he is.
I, my brethren, who have been found worthy through the compassion of our Christ to stand in this holy and apostolic place, have first inquired about you and I've learned that with the grace of our Lord and God Jesus Christ you are not Greeks [i.e., pagans I ; that you are not impious, heretics, godless; but that you are pious Orthodox Christians who believe and have been baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; that you are sons and daughters of our Christ. And not only am I not worthy to teach you, but not even worthy to kiss your feet, for each of you is worth more than the whole world. Your nobility should know about me also. And I know that some people have told you other things, but if you wish to learn the truth, I'll tell it to you.
My false, earthly, and fruitless homeland is the province of Arta, in the district of Apokouro. My father, my mother, my family are pious Orthodox Christians. However, I too am, my brethren, a sinful man, worse than anyone. But I'm a servant of our Lord God Jesus Christ who was crucified. Not that I'm worthy to be a servant of Christ, but Christ condescended to have me because of his compassion.
Therefore, my brethren, I believe, glorify, and worship our Christ. It is our Christ that I beseech to cleanse me from every spiritual and bodily sin. It is our Christ that I beseech to strengthen me so that I may conquer the three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. I beseech my Christ to find me worthy to spill my blood for his love as he spilled his for my love. If, my brethren, it were possible for me to climb up into the sky, to be able to shout with a great voice, to preach to the entire world that only our Christ is the Son and Word of God, true God and the life of all, I would have done it. But because I can't do such a big thing, I do this small thing: I walk from place to place and teach my brethren as I can, not as a teacher but as a brother. Only our Christ is a teacher. How I was moved to do this, my brethren, I'll tell you. Leaving my homeland fifty years ago, I travelled to many places, forts, towns, villages, and especially to Constantinople. I stayed the longest on the Holy Mountain, seventeen years, where I wept over my sins.
The Treasures of the Gospel
AMONG THE COUNTLESS GIFTS which my Lord has granted me, he made me worthy to acquire a little Greek learning and I became ' a monk. Studying the holy and sacred Gospel, I found in it many and different teachings which are all pearls, diamonds, treasures, riches, joy, gladness eternal life. Among the other things I also found this teaching in which Christ says to us: no Christian, man or woman, should be concerned only with himself, how he can be saved, but must be concerned also with his brethren so that they may not fall into sin.
Hearing this sweetest teaching spoken by our Christ, my brethren, to concern ourselves with our fellows, that teaching gnawed at me inside my heart for many years, just as a worm eats away at wood. Considering my ignorance, what could I do?
I sought the advice of my spiritual fathers, bishops and patriarchs, and I revealed to them my thinking, and I asked if such work was pleasing to God to do it. Everyone urged me to go ahead and they told me that such work is good and sacred.
In fact, urged on by his Holiness Patriarch Sophroniosmay his blessing be upon us-and receiving his sacred blessing, I abandoned my own, advancement, my own good, and went out to walk from place to place to teach my brethren.
Grace is Free
MAKING A START TO TEACH, a thought occurred to me to ask for money (aspers) as I travelled about because I was avaricious and I loved dollars (grosia). Yes, and gold coins (florins) even more, not like your nobility who scorn money, or don't you?
But studying the holy and sacred Gospel, I found another teaching where our Christ says: "I give you my grace free of charge, you too must give it the same way to your brethren; teach without charge, counsel without charge, hear confessions without charge, and if you ask and receive any payment for teaching, great or small, or even a penny (asper), I shall put you to death and place you in hell." Hearing, my brethren, this sweetest teaching which our Christ spoke, that we should labor among our brethren without charge, it seemed to me in the beginning to be very hard. Later, however, it seemed very sweet, like a honeycomb, and I glorified and glorify my Christ a thousand times because he guarded me from the passion for money. So with the grace of our Lord and God Jesus Christ, the Crucified One, I have neither purse, nor house, nor chest, nor another cassock than the one I am wearing.
And I still beseech my Lord to never allow me to acquire until the end of my life a purse, for if I ever begin to take money, I have immediately lost my brethren. I cannot serve both; it is either God or the devil.
It is meet and proper, my fellow Christians, as we learn from the holy Gospel and the sacred Scriptures, to begin our teaching with God. And when we finish [it is proper] to thank God, not because I am worthy to utter the name of my God, but because he has permitted it out of his compassion.
So we leave aside, my brethren, the prattlings of the impious heretics, the atheists, and we speak only of what pious, the Holy Spirit has inspired the holy Prophets, Apostles, and Fathers of our Church to write for us. On the other hand, we shall not speak of all the teachings because it is not possible, we would need years and years, but a few, however, do seem more necessary. And whoever is a lover of learning, let him seek to learn the rest.
Understanding the Holy Trinity
THE MOST GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL GOD, my brethren, is one and anyone who says that there are many gods is a devil. He is also a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one nature, one glory, one kingdom, one God. He is incomprehensible, an inscrutable Lord, omnipotent, all light, all joy, all compassion, all love. We have no example to compare with the Holy Trinity because there is none in the world. But so that our minds can get some small help, the theologians of the Church give us a few examples. Among others, they use the sun. We all know that the sun is one as God is one also. And just as the sun illuminates this perceptible world, so does the Holy Trinity, God, illuminate the intelligible world.
We have said, my brethren, that the sun is one but it is three at the same time. It has rays which come to our eyes like lines, like threads.
It also has light which spreads throughout the entire world. We liken the eternal Father with the sun, the co-eternal Son with the rays, and the consubstantial Spirit with the light. There is still another way in which you can understand the Holy Trinity. How? Confess candidly, receive the holy Sacraments with fear and reverence, and then the grace of the Holy Spirit will enlighten you so that you will understand better. It is this Holy Trinity that we pious and Orthodox Christians glorify and worship. He is the true God, and all others except for the Holy Trinity who are called god, are demons. And it is not only we who believe, glorify, and worship the Holy Trinity, but prophets, apostles, martyrs, ascetics, as numerous as the sand of the sea and the stars of the sky, who have shed their blood for the love of the Holy Trinity and have attained paradise and rejoice forever.
Similarly, men and women have denied the world, have gone off into the deserts and practiced asceticism all their lives and have gone to paradise. In addition, men and women lived in the world with prudence and virginity, with fasting, prayers, alms, and good works, and lived well here on earth and went to paradise to rejoice forever. There is no place from where God is absent. We pious Christians should consider that God is in our hearts when we wish to commit some sin, that he is present everywhere, and that he sees us. We should be ashamed before the angels, the saints, and especially before the angel who guards our soul and observes us. We are embarrassed before a young child when we commit a sin, so how can we not be embarrassed before so many saints and angels?
The Names of God
THE MOST GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL GOD, my brethren, has many and various names. He is called light, life, and resurrection.
But God's chief name is, and he is called, love. If we wish to live well here also and to go to paradise, and to call our God love and father, we should have two loves: love for our God and for our brethren. It is natural for us to have these two loves and unnatural not to have them. And just as a swallow needs two wings to fly in the air so do we need these two loves, because without them it is impossible for us to be saved.
Our Two Loves
FIRST, IT IS OUR DUTY TO LOVE our God because he has given us such a large earth here to live on temporarily: so many thousands of plants, springs, rivers, seas, air, day, night, sky, sun, etc. For whom did he create all of these if not for us? What did he owe us? Nothing. They are all gifts. He made us human beings; he didn't make us animals. He made us pious Orthodox Christians and not impious heretics. Although we sin thousands of times an hour he has compassion for us like a father, and he doesn't put us to death and place us in hell. But he waits for our repentance with open arms, for the time when we shall repent, when we shall stop Committing evil and do good, to go to confession, to be.restored so that he will embrace us to put us in paradise to rejoice forever. Now, shouldn't we too love this sweetest God and master? And if there is need, [shouldn't we] shed our blood a thousand times for his love as he shed his for our love? A man invites you to his home and wants to treat you to a glass of wine. For the rest of your life you will respect him and honor him.
Shouldn't you honor and respect God who gave you so many good things and who was crucified for Your love? What father was ever crucified for his children? But our sweetest Jesus Christ shed his blood and ransomed us from the hands of the devil. Now shouldn't we too love our Christ? But we not only don't love him, we insult him every day with the sins that we commit.
But whom do you want us to love, my brethren? Should we love the devil who put us out of paradise and brought us to this accursed world where we suffer so much evil? Moreover, the devil is so disposed that if he could this very minute cause our death and put us into hell, he would do it. Now I ask you, my brethren, to tell me what we should do: to love the devil, our enemy, or to love God, our author and creator?
"[God] of course, 0 saint of God; you speak well."
May your blessings be upon me. I agree too, but God also needs a couch to rest upon. What is that couch? Love. Let us, therefore, also have love for God and plant in our and then God will come and gladden us, and plant in our hearts eternal life. We then shall live well here on earth and we will go to paradise to rejoice forever.
But we not only don't have love but have hatred and malice in our hearts and we hate our brethren. The cunning and plants death in our soul, devil comes and makes us bitter and plants death in our soul, and we live badly here on earth and go to hell and burn forever.
Love is Natural
IT IS NATURAL FOR US TO LOVE our brethren because we are of one nature, we have one baptism, one faith, we receive the same holy sacraments, and we hope to enjoy paradise. He who has been found worthy and has received these two loves in his heart, love of God and love for his brethren, is fortunate indeed. Because whoever has God in his heart possesses all that is good and can't bear to commit sin.
And whoever doesn't have God in his heart has the devil and always commits evil and every kind of sin.
Love and Works
EVEN IF WE PERFORM THOUSANDS upon thousands of good works, my brethren: fasts, prayers, almsgiving; even if we shed our blood for our Christ and we don't have these two loves, but on the contrary have hatred and malice toward our brethren, all the good we have done is of the devil and we go to hell.
But, you say, we go to hell despite all the good we do because of that little hatred? Yes, my brethren, because that hatred is the devil's poison, and just as when we put a little yeast in a hundred pounds of flour it has such power that it causes all the dough to rise, so it is with hatred. It transforms all the good we have done into the devil's poison.
Love in Action
HOW ARE YOU GETTING ALONG HERE, my brethren? Is there love among you? If by chance you want to be saved, don't ask for anything else in this world except for love. If there is anyone here among your nobility who has this love for his brethren, let him stand up and tell me so that I may pray for him also and ask all the Christians to forgive him. He'll receive such forgiveness that he couldn't buy it for thousands gold coins.
"I 0 saint of God, love God and my brethren."
"Good, my child, you have my blessing. What is your name? "
"What is your trade?"
"I tend sheep."
"Do you weigh the cheese you sell?"
"Yes, I do."
"You, my child, have learned to weigh cheese, and I to weigh love. Is the scale ashamed of its master?"
"Now I'll weigh your love and if it is true and not false, then I'll pray for you too and I'll ask all the Christians [here] to forgive you. How can I determine, my son, whether or not you love your brethren?" Now I who walk about and teach in the world can say that I love Mr. Kostas as dearly as I love my own eyes. But you don't believe it. You want to test me first and then you'll believe.
I have bread to eat and you don't. Now if I were to give YOU some since you have none, this shows that I love you. But if I were to eat all of the bread and you went about hungry, what does that show? It shows that this love I have for you is false.
I have two glasses of wine to drink; you have none. If I were to give you some to drink, then I show that I love you. But if I don't give you any, then the love is false.
You are sad. Your mother and father have died. If I were to come to console you, then my love is true. But if while you cried and mourned
I ate, drank, and danced, my love would be false.
"Do you love that poor boy?"
"If you loved him, you would buy him a shirt because he is naked so that he too will pray for your soul. Then your love will be true, but now it is false."
"Isn't that right, my Christians? We can't go to paradise with false love. Now if you want to make your love true as gold, take and clothe the poor children and then I'll ask that you be forgiven. Will you do it?"
"Fellow Christians, Kostas has learned that the love he had up to now was false and he wants to make it true as gold. He will clothe the poor children. And because we have taught him, I beg you to say for Mr. Kostas three times: 'May God forgive him and have mercy upon him."
The 'Our Father'
THE MOST GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL GOD is and is named love; he is and is named Trinity. Moved by compassion, the Lord first created ten orders of angels. The angels are fiery spirits, immaterial as is our soul. Each order is as numerous as the stars in heaven. What moved God to create them? His compassion. We too, my brethren, if we wish to call our God father must be compassionate, and cause our brethren to rejoice, and then we can call God father [and say] : "Our father who is in heaven - - ." If, however, we are merciless hard-hearted, and we cause our brethren to be poisoned and we put death in their hearts, we shouldn't call God our father but the devil, for the devil and not God wants us to cause our brethren to bepoisoned.
AND SO, MY BRETHREN, the first order of angels of which we spoke earlier fell because of pride and sought to be glorified equally with God. From a luminous and most brilliant being, the angel became the darkest devil and the enemy of people. He is in hell where he burns forever. When we hear the word devil, it is he who was once the first among angels; it is he who moves people to pride, to murder, to theft; it is he who enters into a dead person, causing him to appear living, and we call him a ghost. [Finally,] it is he who enters a living person who takes on the image of Christ, of the Panagia, or some Saint, and running up and down like a person possessed, says he performs miracles. It is the devil who enters into a person and causes him to become an epileptic and demoniac. But may God be glorified, for he's given us three weapons with which to fight him. If there are some here who are possessed and wish to learn the cure, it is easy: confession, fasting, and prayer. The more a person goes to confession, fasts, and prays, the more the devil burns and flees.