Anonymous asked: What is the philokalia? Would you recommend it?
I have also read The Way of a Pilgrim, and I agree. It is an excellent introduction to Orthodox spirituality as a whole.
The philokalia is a collection of writings of the Church Fathers from the fourth to fifteenth centuries, originally compiled by Saint Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and Saint Makarios of Corinth. From what I have read about it, the writings deal mainly with prayer. It is one of the great treasures of the Orthodox Church, I would highly recommend checking it out!
FWIW, I would recommend reading Way of a Pilgrim first. From what I’ve heard, the Philokalia is a very difficult text, especially for a beginner, who doesn’t know much about the mystical tradition of the Orthodox Church; it should be read under the guidance of someone who’s more experienced in the Orthodox approach to the spiritual life. Way of a Piligrim, though - which I have read - sort of distills down the essential teachings of the Philokalia in a way that anyone can understand and even begin to practice. Just my two cents.
In the old days, during the feast of the Theophany, we used to sanctify homes. One year I also went to sanctify. I would knock on the doors of the apartments, they would open for me, and I walked in singing “In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord….”
As I went along the road called Maizonos, I saw an iron door. I opened it, walked into the courtyard which was full of tangerine, orange and lemon trees, and proceeded to the stairs. It was an outdoor staircase that went up, and down was the basement. I climbed the stairs, knocked on the door, and a lady appeared. Since she opened I began my common practice singing, “In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord….” She stopped me abruptly. Meanwhile, girls began to emerge from their rooms after hearing me from the left and right of the hallway. “I see that I fell into a brothel,” I said to myself. The woman walked in front of me to stop.
"Leave", she told me. "It is not right for them to kiss the Cross. I will kiss the Cross and then you should leave, please."
I took seriously her disapproving attitude and said: “I cannot leave! I am a priest, I cannot go! I came here to sanctify.”
"Yes, but it is not right for them to kiss the Cross."
"But we don’t know if it is right for them or you to kiss the Cross. Because if God asks me for whom it is more right to kiss the Cross, the girls or you, I probably would say: ‘It is right for the girls to kiss and not you. Their souls are much better than yours.’"
With that she became a bit red in the face, so I said: “Leave the girls to come kiss the Cross.” I signalled for them to come forward. I began to chant more melodically than before: “In Jordan, You were baptized O Lord…” because I had such joy within me, that God had ordained things so that I may also come to these souls.
They all kissed the Cross. They were all made-up, with colorful skirts, etc. I told them: “My children, many years! God loves us all. He is very good and ‘allows the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous’ (Matt. 5:45). He is the Father of everyone and God cares for everyone. Let us make sure to come to know Him and for us to also love Him and to become good. May you love Him, and then you will see how happy you will be.”
They looked at me, wondering. Something took a hold of their tired souls.
Lastly I told them: “I rejoice that God has made me worthy to come here today to sanctify you. Many years!”
"Many years!" they also said, and I left.— Elder Porphyrios